The Toronto Blue Jays are now in the fast lane to the ALDS after taking two of three from the New York Yankees at home. Following a fantastic stretch of pitching that has left R.A. Dickey‘s ERA set to reach a sub-4.00 level, two factors point towards him starting game two of that series between David Price and Marcus Stroman.
The first factor, which is the lesser of the two, is the “Dickey Effect”. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi examined this phenomenon earlier today in his column, and it’s something that has been a white whale of sorts to Blue Jays fans. As it turns out, there is a performance benefit to pitchers who throw the day after R.A. Dickey. Well, a slight one.
According to Davidi, Toronto starters have recorded a 3.33 ERA on days following Dickey against the same team. That’s down from an already-stellar point of 3.77. While their H/9, K/9 and WHIP are all close enough to call even, the most noticeable difference comes into play when we look at hard contact.
Pitchers that follow Dickey have allowed 0.84 HR/9, down from the rotation’s 1.04 total in 2015. Their FIP improves from an average of 4.04 to 3.76 while opponents record soft contact at a slightly higher rate the day after facing the knuckler. These numbers are far from overwhelming, but the Blue Jays pitchers believe in it wholeheartedly.
“We joke around and call it the Dickey Effect,” said Marco Estrada. “When we went to New York and he started the first game, I thought that made a huge difference because it felt like the next two games, which was Price and myself, that was the best I’ve thrown against them.”
Yankees third baseman Chase Headley also confirmed the point from across the diamond, telling reporters “when you’re going really well as a team, probably the last thing you want to run into is a knuckleballer.”
Still, this isn’t enough to force my hand in starting Dickey over Stroman, who may well be the better pitcher of the two when the time comes. Instead, it’s Dickey home/road splits in 2015 that make it logical to give him a potential game two start at the Rogers Centre.
In 16 starts at home in 2015, Dickey has produced a 3.15 ERA with a 1.077 WHIP. Outside of the Dome, Dickey has allowed an ERA of 5.09 with a 1.420 WHIP, not to mention an opponent’s batting average of .304. At home? Just .199.
However the mystical confines of the Rogers Centre benefit Dickey in terms of climate control, humidity and comfort, they simply produce better results. Marcus Stroman, who would then follow Dickey, should be trusted to perform just as well on the road as he did at home on Wednesday night. He’ll also have the benefit of pitching the day after his opponents faced a knuckleball, for whatever that’s worth.