Mets Cannot Rely on Dickey in 2011

New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey reacts after he threw a one-hit shutout to beat the Philadelphia Phillies in their MLB National League baseball game in New York August 13, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

I’m not going to lie.  I mercilessly mocked the New York Mets for signing R.A. Dickey in the offseason.  To be honest, I was frustrated.  Other teams were out signing pitchers like John Lackey (Red Sox), or trading for others such as Cliff Lee (Mariners), and I was stuck having to deal with the Mets settling for a 35-year-old knuckleballer who had never seen any extended success in the Major Leagues.

Hell, he wasn’t even supposed to be on the Mets 25-man roster, which got me even more ticked off.  Why are we trying to support our Binghamton/Buffalo starting rotations, when our major league rotation is in this type of shape?

Well, Dickey’s 2010 performance has shut me, and likely lots of other ignoramuses similar to myself, right up.  He’s gone 8-5, with an outstanding 2.43 ERA.  Hitters have rarely, if ever, looked comfortable against Dickey’s knuckleball, which he mixes in with a fastball.  FanGraphs.com has Dickey throwing his knuckleball 83.7 percent of the time, with his fastball coming just 16.3 percent of the time he throws a pitch. Dickey’s got a good thing going with his knuckler, he knows it, and he’s taking advantage of it.

Bad knuckleballs stay flat.  Good knuckleballs dance, and that’s what Dickey’s has done for a majority of the season. Hitters have frequently taken uncertain swings at these pitches, resulting in either softly hit balls, or swings and misses.

Dickey is arbitration eligible for 2011, which let’s be honest, is what needs to be the Mets’ priority right now.

Should the Mets bring R.A. Dickey back?

I think the answer is quite obvious: of course.  But the extent of what you can actually expect out of Dickey needs to be evaluated.

Yes, he has eaten up innings, allowed very few runs, and been the Mets’ most consistent starting pitcher this season.  That said, you can’t expect too much from a pitcher who has never won more than nine games in a season.  Jerry Manuel can’t put him near the top of the rotation and expect him to get into the double digits in the win column, and Omar Minaya can’t tell Manuel he needs to.

Hopefully, the Mets can go out this offseason and steal a pitcher like Cliff Lee from the free agent market, so they can put Dickey in a less pressured slot in the rotation, such as the fourth or the fifth slot.

If they can’t land another ace, they’d still be wise to go after a mid-level starter such as Ted Lilly or Vicente Padilla so they can still slot Dickey down low in the rotation.

Hopefully, the Mets found something really special in Dickey.  Being a knuckleballer, his arm endures much less stress than a normal pitcher, so not only is he a strong candidate to go deep into games on a consistent basis, he’s a strong candidate to pitch into his 40’s, considering his knuckleball keeps hitters on their toes.

Dickey has definitely been a nice piece for the Mets in 2010, and he has the potential to be in 2011.  But don’t be fooled, he can not be counted on as an X-factor.  If the Mets are going into next season relying on players such as R.A. Dickey to lead them to the promised land, don’t expect results much different from 2009 or this year.

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About Doug Gausepohl

My name's Doug Gausepohl, and I'm 20 years of age. I'm majoring in Journalism in college, hoping to transfer to a four-year institution next spring. I'm a huge Mets/baseball fan! I love sports journalism, and it's my current career path that I couldn't be happier with. I'm also an avid New Jersey Devils fan. When I'm not perched in front of a computer or television screen with something sports related on it, I'm serving tables at T.G.I. Friday's, playing rec. softball, going out to eat with friends, or working on schoolwork. It'll be bitter sweet when the Mets win a World Series in my eyes, because even though it will be absolute ecstacy, it will mean this whole journey... is over, in a way. That said, that doesn't mean I won't take that year's title and shove it in every other baseball fan's face.

2 thoughts on “Mets Cannot Rely on Dickey in 2011

  1. MetStatHead

    Good article, but you just told us all the reasons the Mets SHOULD count on Dickey for next year. The rotation is a mess, pitchers aren’t going deep into games, and he isn’t the type of power pitcher that will ever command huge dollars.

    I think the Mets struck gold with Dickey!

    All your points are valid. He is very much like Tim Wakefield, not a #1 or 2 pitcher in a rotation. He is best suited for a 4 or 5 slot and should never be put up against other team’s #1s. The Mets also need to have their best defensive team on the field when he is pitching, since hitters are often putting the ball in play.

    I think the Mets have a lot of things to fix on this team. Dickey will not cost them an arm and a leg and he is a great personality and clubhouse guy. He’s been in the minor leagues for many years, he’s has ups and downs, and he can teach these young guys how to play the game right.

    I think Dickey will be key to this team while they rebuild, if they ever rebuild…

  2. jh

    I agree. Good article. The Mets should count on Dickey next year. But they should count on him to be what he is. This is really the first year in MLB where he has used the knuckleball. Can we expect every year will be this good? If you look at other knuckleball pitchers, the answer is no. The knuckleball seems to come and go. But I think we should sign him and I would be willing to even sign him to a 2 year contract.

    There is one way that DIckey is different from other knuckleball pitchers. His knuckleball is faster than others. This is good. He varies the speed on it also. The one drawback, I think, is that his endurance is not quite as good as seen in other knuckleball pitchers. If you look at his past games, he loses speed in later innings, and that is when he gets hit. I don't think the problem is that people can hit a slower knuckleball. Rather, the problem is the loss of variation in speeds. This means maybe we should not expect him to finis games. It also means the mangager should be watching for different things when deciding to take him out or not.

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