In a season marred by poor coaching, poor play, and utter turmoil there is one light that shines brighter than the rest…his name is R.A. Dickey. After another R.A.Diculous outing (8 1/3 IP, 2 ER) the other night, the knuckle baller has lowered his team leading ERA to 2.41 and has allowed 2 or less earned runs in 12 of his 18 starts.
I believe Bobby Ojeda of SNY summed it up best, when he stated the following about the R.A.:
The consistency of R.A Dickey has been very very impressive. The road that he has been on, the long traveled windy road, I think that’s part of the thing that’s made him such a fighter such a scrapper. He’s out there and expects no body to give him anything, no one every had, and he’s earning it each and every time out.”
That long road Ojeda talked about started in 1996 when Robert Alan Dickey was selected in the first round (18th overall) by the Texas Rangers. Back then he was more of a gunslinger type, throwing upwards of 92/93 MPH. He spent most of the next 8 yrs bouncing between AAA and the majors and from 2001-2004 he was unimpressive to say the least. Since 2006 Dickey has been cut loose by the Rangers, Mariners, and Twins and signed a minor league contract with the Mets in December of 2009.
Heading into this season R.A. had a 14-22 record and 6.30 ERA in 48 career starts but did show some promise working out of the bullpen while with the Mariners in 2008, posting a 2.oo ERA in that role (36 IP).
This year the story has reached new heights, ones from different book, off a different shelf, from a library on another planet. Dickey’s record stands at 8-5 and he leads all Mets starters with a 2.41 ERA in 18 starts. After his next start he will reach the inning requirement to place him amongst the league leaders in ERA, in which he would currently rank 6th in the National League:
With 6 straight wins (5/25-6/23) he even became the first Mets pitcher in franchise history to win his first 6 decisions. Prior to this year R.A. had a career BB/9 ratio of 3.5, but he has managed to only allow 30 walks over 119 1/3 innings (2.4 BB/9) this year. At this point his 2010 stats are hard to ignore. The question now becomes, after 13 seasons of mediocrity and the not so tender age of 35, is his performances thus far a fluke or reality.
A view of Dickey’s numbers from a sabermetrics standpoint (click HERE to read post) , which eliminates any bias we might have after growing to love his beard, high socks, or the fact that he is often a jolt of passion in an otherwise passionless stadium, suggests that he is far from a anomaly, but not likely as good as we’ve seen.
Future aside, at a time when there isn’t a lot going right for the team, it’s fun to reflect over what Dickey has accomplished. For that very reason, I will take a look back at his top 5 performances thus far in 2010:
5. June 11th vs. Baltimore:
Dickey struck out a career high 8 batters and in typical captain caveman fashion he beat down an Orioles scoring threat by clubbing his way out of a bases loaded no-out jam in the bottom of the 4th inning . Staying as cool as Trent from Swingers, the knuckle-baller went on to strike out both Luke Scott and Adam Jones before inducing an inning ending pop out to David Wright by Matt Weiters. With his dancing knuckler baffling Baltimore hitters throughout the night, this marked R.A.’s 4th win in his first 5 starts as a Met.
4. August 18th vs. Houston:
R.A. hit his first double of the season in the bottom of the 7th inning, scoring rookie second baseman, Ruben Tejada, to give NY a 1-0 lead. The RBI was his 3rd of the year. In the bottom of the 8th inning with 1 out and runners on the corners, Dickey did what he does best, he dug down and fought. The 35-year-old righty struck out one of the hottest hitters in baseball (just ask Johan Santana) in Hunter Pence and then got Carlos Lee to fly out and end the inning. The Dickster was unable to pick up his 9th win of the season, however, when he allowed a game tying 9th inning home run to Geoff Blum. His 8 1/3 IP, 2 ER effort kept the NY inept offense in the game long enough to eventually win in extra innings, 3-2.
3. July 29th vs. St.Louis:
On the heels of heart breaking loss the knuckle baller went to the mound and did what he has done all year, he came through when the team needed him most. R.A. was flat out dominating through 8 innings of work scattering 4 hits en route to picking up his 7th win of the season.
2. June 23rd vs Detriot:
Dickey simply baffled the Detriot offense, allowing only 4 hits on an economical 97 pitches. The 35-year-old right hander finished his night in dominating fashion, retiring the last 13 batters he faced. With the victory he became the first Mets pitcher in franchise history to win his first 6 decisions. Truly an amazing story.
1. August 13th vs. Philadelphia:
Dickey was able to follow up a brilliant start from the staff ace, Johan Santana (9 IP, 0 ER), with his own record book performance. He threw the teams 35th 1 hitter, allowing only a 6th inning single to Cole Hamels, as he led the New York Mets to a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the first time that the Mets have received back to back complete game shut outs in 8 years (Pedro Astacio & Jeff D’Amico), while giving the team their MLB leading 18th shut out victory. This, the top R.A.Diculous performance of 2010, deserves a closer look.
R.A. rebounded from his shortest outing of the season (3 IP, 4 ER vs. Phillies) by baffling Philadelphia hitters and allowing just 2 base runners all night, none of which would touch second base. It took Dickey just 105 pitches to finish off his second career complete game shut out, striking out 7, and earning his 8th win of the season.
Dickey, who looks more like a guy you could find in a lumber jack competition than a Major League baseball field, has been the best story to come out of this heartbreaking season. He is that lunchpail pitcher……when you see him pitch it translates to hope for all of us. It’s like you or me out there…
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