R.A. Dickey has been dealing for Blue Jays
When the Toronto Blue Jays added David Price ahead of the deadline, they finally landed the true “ace” they’ve been lacking since the Roy Halladay era. Some had tagged that status to R.A. Dickey when he came over from the New York Mets following a Cy Young season, but of course, it hasn’t worked out that way. Dickey is rounding the corner at full steam, however, and just like in 2014, he seems poised for a very good stretch run.
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We often become so singularly focused on the immediate impact of an addition that we fail to properly recognize the secondary purpose that it has. In adding Price as a number one starter, the two becomes the three, three becomes the four, and so on. We see this in the bullpen, as well, where the additions of Aaron Sanchez, LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe have allowed players to move into roles that are more defined, fitting their skill set more comfortably.
By this line of thinking, Price’s addition helps move Dickey towards his true value, a back-of-the-rotation starter that will frustrate you through the first half before stepping on the gas late. As someone who’s been critical of the knuckleballer throughout 2015, it’s important that I circle back to this conversation when I’m proven wrong. Dickey has been dealing, and he’s prepared to play a starring role in this playoff push.
In his 11 starts since the beginning of June, Dickey has posted a stellar 2.96 ERA while limiting opposing hitters to an OPS of .690. When we shrink the number to Dickey’s four most recent starts, he holds a 1.53 ERA and has held hitters to a .187 batting average. Not bad.
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This loosely mirror’s a late-season push from Dickey last season. After a hot July cooled off for an average August, Dickey was lights out from September 1st on. He held opponents to a .171 average with a 2.58 ERA and 0.875 WHIP in his final six starts. This streaky nature comes with being a knuckler, but when it’s working in Toronto’s favor, it’s a game-changer.
Dickey has dealt with control issues throughout 2015, often producing too much movement on his volatile trademark pitch. Things seem to be settling down, though, and his ability to work deep into games on high pitch counts could hold some additional value. John Gibbons will look to feed David Price a start every fifth day, regardless of off-days, and Dickey’s length could give Gibbons’ more confidence with using the four-man rotation in those sporadic scenarios through August and September.
The greybeard knuckler is not an ace, not close. What he is, however, is a valuable piece with the potential to win Toronto some games down the stretch. We often hastily dismiss his strong starts with an attitude of “Finally, you owe us some of those for Noah Syndergaard.” The quality outings are piling up, though, with 8.0 and 8.1 IP in his last two, and with a little bit of run support, ol’ R.A. can be the unsung hero this playoff run needs.
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