Blue Jays Series Preview: Time for the offence to breakout?
By Lucas Silva
Game 1: May 13 – 8:05 ET @ Texas
R.A. Dickey (1-4, 5.18 ERA, 4.43 FIP) vs.
Martin Perez (1-2, 3.51 ERA, 4.64 FIP)
Perez threw five scoreless against the Jays in their first series earlier this year, as he struck out four while allowing seven baserunners. It was a solid start, and he flashes plus stuff at times, but his peripherals this year leave plenty to be desired. His strikeouts-per-nine sits at an underwhelming 5.49, and his BB/9 is an ugly 5.00. It’s a never a good sign when a pitcher’s strikeout and walk totals are near each other.
He throws hard, with an average 4-seam velocity of 93.80 and sinker average of 93.55, and can get both pitches up to 97 when he needs to, and the sinker is particularly adept at getting both whiffs and ground balls. His changeup is also very good, as he uses it as his go-to offspeed and two strike pitch, but he lacks a strong third pitch. He throws both a slider and curve, but neither are very effective swing and miss offerings, only generating 6.86 and 7.25 whiff percentages and Perez doesn’t use them frequently.
He was always touted as a top prospect due to his upside and velocity, getting as high as #17 on Baseball America’s top 100, and #15 on Baseball Prospectus’. But, he’s never really broken through like many scouts thought he would. His career strikeout rate is a pedestrian 5.86, and he’s never been able to create an above third offering to go with his sinker and change up.
What he does do well is get the ball on the ground with a high frequency. His 2016 GB% of 54.3% is very good, and he controls the home run ball fairly well. But he shouldn’t be giving a lineup with the talent of the Jays a hard time.
They need to be patient with him. His BB/9 suggests some serious command issues in 2016, and a patient approach will force him to come into the zone or walk too many hitters to be successful. Furthermore, even if he is pounding the zone early in the count, his lack of strikeout potential doesn’t give the hitter a big disadvantage in a two strike count.
Despite the weak ERA, Dickey has been very Dickey-like. His FIP and xFIP are right in line with what he’s done in the last two years, but his ERA is bloated due to higher BABIP and lower LOB%. There’s a percentage of luck that goes into every pitcher’s performance from every single kind of pitcher, but with Dickey, the role that luck plays is on another level.
He’s so hard to predict from start to start, and the variables are so great with the knuckleball that it’s difficult to say with any confidence when he’s going to go on one of his patented streaks. His last two starts have been the best of his short season, though.
He’s gotten into the 7th inning in each start, allowed two or less earned runs, and gotten double-digit ground ball totals for the first time in 2016.
If there’s any indication towards R.A. Dickey turning it around and putting together a string of quality starts, that’s probably it. Furthermore, his start against the Rangers earlier this year was a success, as he went 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
Next: Estrada continues proving doubters wrong