Dickey Settng a New Standard for Knucklers
And then there was one. When Tim Wakefield stopped pitching at the age of 44, R.A. Dickey was the last knuckle ball pitcher left in the major leagues. He was the dodo bird, the one guy that fans could marvel at because he doesn’t know where the ball might land, or does he?
In just his third year with the Mets the righthander has already exceeded his career win total with 12 and in a few starts he will set a new personal best for strikeouts. The art behind pitching is to make the batter swing and miss no matter how you can get the job done. Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg throws good old fashioned heat yet he only leads the Mets starter by two strikeouts for the league lead. The last knuckle ball pitcher to lead the league in strikeouts was Hall of Famer, Phil Niekro.
Dickey’s highest WHIP total was 1.22 and now it’s 0.88. Niekro’s best was 1.02 and Wilbur Wood’s was 1.00 but on average most of their seasons were considerably higher. The reason Dickey’s has been so low is the fact that he throws the pitch harder than most ever have, in the 80’s sometimes, and that seems to have calmed it down and it’s not so unpredictable. This year he’s only recorded one WP and we’re almost at the All-Star break. In most years he would record double digits in that column.
Right now the Knoxville, TN native is the toast of the town in New York. He’s the best pitcher in town and he has a 12-1 record and maybe one start left until the All-Star break. He has a real chance of starting that game considering the rubber-arm nature of the knuckle ball pitcher.
The last Mets pitcher to start an All-Star game was Dwight Gooden back in 1988. Tony LaRussa has an easy decision to make here but it’s never a lock so we’ll wait and see until that announcement is made.
Until then the Mets are in the thick of the pennant race. Will they be able to hold up? Probably without some bullpen help. Will Sandy Alderson budget himself a player or two at the deadline to keep the Mets in it? That’s the million dollar question. Will R.A. Dickey win 20 games? You would think so and the last Met to win 20 games? Frank Viola in 1990. It’s been a long time!
photo by Feldman