While the title of this post may suggest taking a step back from the ugly start to the Jay’s season for a light piece revolving around the antics of the teams loveable mascot, sadly that is not the case.
The Jay’s season to date can quite easily be classified as an unmitigated disaster, and while trying to pinpoint what has caused the lack of success would be an exercise in futility, there are certain glaring issues that cannot be ignored.
The first two games against the Mariners have shown the difference maker a true Ace (or lack thereof) can be for a team.
Since the departure of the unflappable Roy Halladay from the top of the Jay’s rotation the team has been without a true Ace to lead their staff. Even in their most woeful stretches during Halladay’s tenure they could count on their Ace to put the brakes on any losing skid when his turn in the rotation came.
In the first three years of the post Halladay era the club hoped a leader would emerge from the stable of young pitchers. After 2011 it appeared Ricky Romero was ready to assume this role posting a 15 win season with a 2.97 ERA and making a trip to the All Star Game, but fate it seemed had different ideas.
In the 2012 season a lot of thing went wrong but the most troubling aspect of the season was that the club remained at square one in it’s search for an Ace: Romero crashed and burned posting the worst ERA among qualified starters for the season, and Morrow continued to show flashes of brilliance but also continued to lack the ability to remain on the field for an entire season.
Then the magical offseason that we all remember so fondly happened and Anthoplous pilfered the Marlin’s big league club to beef up the rotation, but still there was no true Number 1 starter in the bunch, so top prospect Travis D’Arnaud was dealt for reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey in hopes that the search would finally be over.
So far this season the Dickey as Ace experiment does not seem to be working out. Keeping in mind small sample size and the nagging neck injury which Dickey has been pitching through. Even taking those fats into account Dickey has exhibited troubling signs so far this season. Dickey’s BB% is sitting at 9.9 percent, compare that to other Aces within the AL and you’ll see CC Sabathia with a 5.9 percent walk rate, and David Price at 5.7 percent, and yesterday’s opponent Felix Hernandez with a miniscule 3.6 percent walk rate, Even Jon Lester who is not a true Ace by any stretch of the imagination sits more than 2 percent below Dickey at 7.7 percent.
Dickey’s walk rate over the past two seasons where he has used his knuckle ball was only 6 percent so that dramatic increase as well as a jump in his HR/9 (from 0.85 to 1.25) is seeing more balls fly out of the park with more men on the bases when they do.
There have been times this year where Dickey has shown the brilliance that helped earn him a Cy Young award. Hopefully this poor performance can be attributed to the neck injury and his rates will return to normal once the injury has subsided, and then the Jay’s will only need to worry about the other four starters and the offense… PROGRESS!!
All stats courtesy of Fangraphs.