Blue Jays Game 4 ALDS Preview: Dickey comes full circle


How can you not be thrilled for Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey? Selected by the Texas Rangers 18th overall in the 1996 MLB Draft, the same year your Toronto Blue Jays selected Billy Koch fourth (Eek), Dickey’s career has taken him in and out of the game, from a struggling, dime-a-dozen arm to a knuckleballing Cy Young winner. In game four of the ALDS, he’ll have his opportunity to bring things full circle.

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Dickey stumbled out of the gates this season, which is something we’ve come too accept with the nature of his signature pitch, but has quietly becomes one of Toronto’s steadier pitchers over the past month. He’ll be facing Derek Holland, so the Blue Jays will have every opportunity to create some offense.

Game three hero Troy Tulowitzki emerged as Toronto’s own Rougned Odor: the X-factor who threatens to tilt a series single-handedly. If one or more of the Jays’ big bats are able to join Tulo’s groove, this series could be making an unexpected trip back to Toronto.

R.A. Dickey  (11-11, 3.91 ERA)

There had been rumblings that manager John Gibbons would be tempted to start David Price on short rest, but instead, we could be looking at a different dynamic. Marcus Stroman may be available out of the bullpen, leaving Gibbons the option to exercise a quick hook if necessary and throw an entirely different set of pitches and velocities at the Rangers.

Dickey has turned it on since the beginning of September, owning a 2.43 ERA over six starts. Opponents have hit just .188 off him over that span, and while the strikeout totals haven’t been large, he’s limited his walks very well. Dickey has noted this week that the Texas heat and humidity should provide quality conditions for his knuckler to move.

Derek Holland  (4-3, 4.91 ERA)

The 29-year old lefty hasn’t enjoyed his finest season, and after a fan video caught him mock-wiping his backside with a Blue Jays rally towel in Toronto, perhaps he deserves another rough outing. Whereas Dickey has surged since September 1st, Holland has done the opposite.

In his past six starts, he’s posted a 6.19 ERA while allowing an opponent’s OPS of .894. Right-handed batters have also posted an .848 OPS off Holland in 2015, over .100 points higher than his lefty totals. With the right approach, this would be an advantageous matchup.

Player to Watch: Josh Donaldson

Donaldson has enjoyed success against Holland in the past, going 6-for-20 with two home runs and three walks. Along with Edwin Encarnacion, who’s hit Holland well himself, the Blue Jays may be due for some pop from the heart of their order. Holland has allowed 11 home runs in just 58.2 innings this season.

Next: ALDS broadcast leaves Canadians offended

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