Blue Jays leaning heavily on Dickey to pull ALCS even
The Toronto Blue Jays jump back into action today looking to pull even at two games apiece in the ALCS, and it’s a battle of wise men on the mound. Veteran knuckler R.A. Dickey takes on the 36-year old Chris Young as he looks to work a deep start and showcase his knuckleball on the grand stage.
Bullpen uncertainties continue to plague the Blue Jays, so Toronto will put a great deal of faith into Dickey this afternoon, perhaps offering him a longer leash than he earned against the Texas Rangers. A strong September led Dickey into these playoffs with confidence and momentum behind him, so the friendly confines of the Rogers Centre could put him in line for an excellent performance.
Toronto’s bats will need to stay awake against Young, though, and on the surface, it appears to be a beneficial matchup. A surge from the big bats was long overdue, but the unexpected contributions from the likes of Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins could really supercharge this series.
R.A. Dickey (11-11, 3.91 ERA)
Dickey looked relatively strong in the ALDS before handing off to David Price, lasting 4.2 innings while allowing five hits and just one earned run. If he runs into adversity in the middle innings again, though, what options will Gibbons have?
There’s yet to be any indication that a starter is available in relief, and with a shrinking bullpen, a deep outing is almost necessary from Dickey. Hammering the zone will be key, and just 18 hours removed from facing the electric Marcus Stroman, he’ll have an opportunity to throw these Royals hitters off balance. If he’s able to force weak contact, the defense behind him is more than enough.
Chris Young (11-6, 3.06 ERA)
It’s hard to cheer against a player like Young, but for today, I’ll try to make an one-day exception. The 6’10” right-hander benefited greatly from a .209 BABIP in 2015, and with just 6.06 K/9, he’ll be pitching to contact. With that defense behind him, it’s not a bad strategy.
We’ll have an in-depth profile of Young leading up to game time, but the thing to watch with him is the home run ball. His fly ball percentage of 57.9% this season is very enticing, and he’s been rocked with solid contact at times. Hacking and slashing won’t help anyone, but if Toronto can work some counts, the fans in left field could be heading home with souvenirs.
Blue Jay to Watch: Russell Martin
Martin has faced Young 36 times in his career, more than any of his teammates. He’s produced a .300 average with six walks and four strikeouts, so I’ll be watching him to find the perfect pitch this afternoon.
Next: Blue Jays claim ambidextrous pitcher on waivers
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