RA Dickey Shows 3 MPH Increase On Knuckler, Dominates Yankees

RA Dickey gave the Toronto Blue Jays a glimpse of how good his knuckleball can be Saturday afternoon against the New York Yankees.  Dickey was masterful over 6.2 shutout innings striking out 6 Yankee batters.  So the question has to be asked – is RA Dickey circa 2012 back?

Dickey was extremely ineffective in his first start this season and after a promising spring training where he had been throwing the knuckler slightly harder it was definitely a disappointing beginning to the season.

A lot of discussion was had surrounding his velocity, or lack thereof last season so I thought I would take a closer look at just that today.  Here is a chart showing the velocity and movement of RA Dickey’s knuckleball from four different starts.  The first is a start against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012, then the opener against Cleveland in 2013 and of course his first two starts of this current season.

Start Date   Velo (Max)   H-Break   V-Break   Count   Whiffs / %  
6/13/2012 78.7 (82.4) 2.75 1.99 101 23 / 22.8%
4/2/2013 77.3 (80.9) 0.37 0.43 97 9 / 9.3%
3/31/2014 75.5 (78.6) 2.20 2.39 82 10 / 12.2%
4/5/2014 77.7 (81.4) -0.49 1.74 94 13 / 13.8%

As you can see Dickey really was able to power that knuckler during his NL Cy Young campaign from 2012 with the New York Mets.  The average velocity was still 1 MPH higher in that start than during his last start versus the New York Yankees yesterday.  His highest average knuckler also maxed out over 1 MPH higher as well.

Dickey was basically a man possessed during that start against the Rays in 2012 generating a ridiculous 22.8% whiff rate.  He was good against the New York Yankees yesterday but will probably never be able to match that particular start in 2012 – nor should he be expected to.

In 2013 he threw 224.2 IPs with a 4.21 ERA, 7.09 K/9, 4.58 FIP and 2.0 fWAR.  Overall those aren’t terrible numbers but fans expected a lot more from the reigning 2012 NL Cy Young winner when he was acquired last offseason for the hefty price of Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard.

He didn’t quite flash Cy Young yesterday form but when compared to his first start of the 2014 campaign RA Dickey was almost a completely different and better pitcher.  He was on average over 2 MPH harder and each knuckleball and his hardest “power” knuckler was nearly 3 MPH harder.  He was also able to throw much more strikes consistently.

As you can also see from all four starts the knuckleball really has a mind of its own in terms of movement both horizontally and vertically.  I don’t think Russell Crowe in a Beautiful Mind could find a pattern in that data.

If RA Dickey can maintain his velocity and success from his last start against the New York Yankees it would definitely bode well for any sustained success from the 39-year old knuckleball pitcher.  Dickey is under contract with the Blue Jays for another season (2015) plus an option year.  At the very least Dickey could increase his trade value league wide if Alex Anthopoulos was looking to cash in.

Balance of Power – Jays Struggles With Tampa Bay More than Just Simple Road Woes

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