Results tagged ‘ R.A. Dickey ’

Milestones Keep It Interesting

In a season that has disappointed Mets fans aplenty, the last couple of weeks of the season saw some September milestones that kept fans sitting on the edge of their seats, whether they were at home or at Citi Field.

R.A. Dickey became the first pitcher in 22 years to win 20 games for the Mets. As we all know, Frank Viola was the last to accomplish the feat in 1990. Dickey joins a list that includes Viola, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Jerry Koosman, and some guy named Tom Seaver who accomplished the feat four times (not including 1977-he won 21 games combined for the Mets & Reds).

Dickey remains on the shortlist of Cy Young Award contenders, as he now leads the NL in strikeouts and innings pitched. He is second in the wins category as Gio Gonzalez got his 21st win against the Phillies. He is also second in ERA to Clayton Kershaw by 1/100th of a point.

Dickey’s 20 wins makes him responsible for almost 28% of all the Mets victories this season. If you include no-decisions, Dickey has been the starting pitcher in nearly a third of all the Mets’ victories this season. I think it’s amazing that Dickey has been able to earn as many victories as he has on a team that remains subpar. Seeing the pitching performances from Dickey, Matt Harvey, and even Jon Niese make me optimistic that starting pitching will continue to be a strength in 2013.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that David Wright got is 1,419th career hit on Wednesday night. The little infield single that could puts him past Ed “The Original Met” Kranepool as the franchise leader in the hits category.

It seems like the only record left for David Wright to break is Darryl Strawberry’s home run record. Strawberry has 252 home runs, but perhaps the closer goal for Wright is passing Mike Piazza’s 220, which could happen by the middle of next year.

Wright would have to have a monster year in 2013, where he would break the franchise record for home runs in a season (41, by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltran) to get himself in the Strawberry Stratosphere. Or the Strawberry Fields if you’re a fan of The Beatles.

I have to give these guys credit where credit is due. After going on the slide that they went on after the All Star break, they kept us watching. As a Mets fan, I looked forward to the days where Dickey pitched and enjoyed counting down until David Wright broke the Kranepool record. Even though they weren’t playing for anything, Wright and Dickey continue to soldier forward and be leaders in the clubhouse. Let’s bring these guys back long term, pretty please?

 

R.A. Dickey’s Next Start is Critical

R.A. Dickey won his 19th game of the season today, which is the most wins by any Mets pitcher since 1990. That was the year that Frank Viola won 20 and Dwight Gooden won 19.

Today’s win against the Marlins also gives Dickey 12 wins in day games, which ties Cincinatti’s Johnny Cueto for the most in the majors.

The Mets swapped their rotation around to afford R.A. Dickey the luxary of pitching another game at Citi Field, this time against a more formidable opponent, the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are still in contention for a Wild Card spot.

This is a team that is coming off a nine-game losing streak at home, and a run where they scored less than three runs in 16 straight home games. We all know the offense is streaky and Dickey’s record should really reflect better than what is actually is. But people still come to Citi Field if they know Dickey is pitching. I had the privilege of seeing him pitch his one-hitter against Tampa Bay, and I was just in awe. Even in a matchup that seemed like a pitcher’s duel on paper (it was Dickey vs. David Price after all), Dickey dominated his opponent and did the job the Mets are paying him to do.

Dickey and pitching coach Dan Warthen suggested that Dickey pitch next Thursday’s home finale against Pittsburgh instead of pitching Friday in Atlanta. It may have been the best move Dickey has made this season; in his three starts against Atlanta, he has an 8.80 ERA (even though one of the games was waterlogged). In his start against the Pirates this season, Dickey has allowed one run over seven innings pitched.

I think Dickey’s 20 wins will give the Mets and their fans something to be proud of. In a season mostly downs, R.A. Dickey will dominate the highlight reel. In years to come, we will be able to go back and say, “Hey, 2012 wasn’t all that bad. That was the year Dickey won 20 games.”

And in 2013, we’ll hopefully see better things to come with Dickey and Matt Harvey sitting at the top of the rotation.

Can R.A. Dickey win the NL Cy Young?

R.A. Dickey is going for his 19th win of the season against the Phillies at Citi Field.

There’s no question he’s good; he’s 18-5 with an NL-leading 2.68 ERA and a 1.044 WHIP (2nd in NL) going into tonight. In 205 innings pitched, he’s accumulated 197 strikeouts (2nd in NL) against 48 walks.

The question for R.A. Dickey all season has been: can a knuckleballer win the Cy Young award? After all, a knuckleballer has never been honored with the prestigious award. The Braves’ Phil Niekro finished second in the voting in 1969 to some guy named Tom Seaver. Wilbur Wood of the Chicago White Sox also finished second in the voting in 1972, losing out to Gaylord Perry.

The Cy Young award appears to be a four-man field between Dickey, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, and Clayton Kershaw, all of whom sit atop the NL leaderboards in most categories. The difference between Dickey and Cueto/Gonzalez/Kershaw is that the Reds and Nationals are both poised to win their divisions, with the Dodgers still in contention for one of two Wild Cards spots and R.A. Dickey isn’t pitching for anything.

I don’t need to remind anybody that the Mets sit 4th in the NL East with a 66-80 record going into play tonight. We’re not even playing to finish with a .500 record; we’re playing because we have to play 162 games and to avoid the cellar. The only accomplishments R.A. Dickey has left to play for are his own personal ones, such as a 20 win season and the NL Cy Young award.

But will the voters go for a pitcher on a 4th (or potentially 5th) place team? Tim Lincecum won the award in 2008 & 2009 despite the Giants finishing 4th and 3rd in those respective years. Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young award in 2011 despite the Mariners finishing with one of the worst records in the American League. Zach Greinke won the 2009 AL Cy Young award despite the Royals’ 65-97 record and last place finish in the AL Central.

But what does that all mean for the Mets, who haven’t seen a Cy Young winner since Dwight Gooden won the award in 1985? It means that the voters, the Baseball Writers Association of America will simply have to ignore the horrendous second half of the Mets and remember the R.A. Dickey that pitched two consecutive one-hitters during the month of June while not allowing a run for 32 2/3 straight innings.

The last three weeks of the season are not only crucial for Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, and Clayton Kershaw, but they are crucial for R.A. Dickey because he’s about the only good thing the Mets have left.

R.A. Dickey Looks to Rebound from Normal Outing

The Subway Series against the Yankees this year was not pretty. The Mets lost five of six and R.A. Dickey saw his his magnificent run end. It was the first non-quality start he recorded since his April 18 start against Atlanta, in which the rain caused his knuckleball to be wild.

It’s not that R.A. Dickey pitched badly against the Yankees (6 IP, 5 ER, 3 K, 3 BB); we could all see that the knuckleball was not going to be his friend that night. It’s not even that the offense blew it for him; the Mets had tied up the game to earn Dickey the no-decision. It was just that R.A. Dickey pitched effectively enough to keep us in the game without dazzling the fans with a one-hit, 13 K outing.

So, where does Dickey go from here? Obviously, the Dodgers are a completely different team from the Yankees. While the Yankees were (and continue to be) red-hot when they played the Mets, the Dodgers are struggling. Before last night’s game, the Dodgers hadn’t scored a run in 33 innings and fell to second in the National League West.

Dickey has to find a place between that normal outing and that dazzling one-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles, where he set a career high strikeout record. For Dickey, the in between would be a quality start, around 7-8 K’s and 1-2 walks allowed. Dickey has always been one of those pitchers that after a sub-par start, he’ll bounce back and give you another run of 12 quality starts. I think the fans expect him to bounce back as much as R.A. expects himself to bounce back.

After his ERA went up to a catastrophic 2.31, I think we’ll be in for a real treat tonight against the Dodgers.

Shock the World

Whether or not R.A. Dickey’s personal mantra is “shock the world,” that is precisely what he is doing.

In fact, at this point in the season, Dickey appears to be the front-runner for the NL Cy Young award, with Matt Cain following close behind him in the race.

Did anyone expect Dickey, who entered the 2012 campaign with a career of 41-50 and 4.34 ERA, to be 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA and a WHIP of 0.889?

What Dickey did during his last two starts was phenominal. In case you were living in a rock, Dickey pitched two complete game one-hitters, while striking out 12 and 13 batters against Tampa Bay and Baltimore, respectively. The only run that he allowed to score was an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth inning against Tampa Bay.

Going back to Dickey’s last six starts, he has only allowed two runs (one earned), and struck out 63 batters in 48 and 2/3 innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no pitcher in major league history had ever struck out eight or more men without allowing an earned run in his last five starts before Dickey did it in his last five starts. I didn’t say no knuckleballer. I said no pitcher, knuckleball or not.

No knuckleballer has ever won the Cy Young award, even though the knuckleball was in 1959 winner Early Wynn’s arsenal. 1952 American League MVP winner Bobby Shantz also had a knuckler, but the Cy Young award wasn’t created until 1956.

Shantz used the pitch more prominently, but he wasn’t a pure knuckleballer like Dickey, who throws the pitch 85% of the time.

Dickey is performing so well that the team has even discussed pitching Dickey on three day’s rest. The reasoning behind any discussion of the sort is that a knuckleballer’s arm tends to heal up quicker than a fastball pitcher’s. And while Dickey may be a team player and want to get out there more often, I don’t think it’s such a good idea at this point in the season. As the old saying goes, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

And for those of you who think R.A. Dickey’s season is a fluke, since that one bad start against Atlanta, Dickey is 9-0 with a 1.21 ERA, and the Mets have won the last 10 out of 11 of Dickey’s starts. I wonder how many pitchers will be mountain climbing in the offseason. Or writing their autobiography. Or both.

See you in Kansas City, R.A.

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

Well, the Mets have gone through a full rotation. After getting off to a 4-0 start, instilling hope in the eyes of many, the Mets have gone back to being the baseball team that we all know and love.

Jason Bay can’t hit the ball to save his life. David Wright fractured his pinky, jeopardizing Terry Collins’ plan to keep Daniel Murphy at second base. Dillon Gee hasn’t shaved his Brian Wilson-esque beard. Perhaps most worrying for the Mets is that in two starts, they’ve scored zero runs for Johan Santana.

Sure, they won on Opening Day…but the run came after Santana came out of the game. Yesterday, the Mets didn’t even score a run after they went to bullpen. On Opening Day, the Mets shut out the Braves. Yesterday, Johan only allowed one earned run. Am I missing something here? Did Santana not come back after 16 months and we have a new guy pitching who says his name is Johan Santana?

But this is nothing new for the Mets. Type in “Johan Santana run support” into any search engine, and one is bombarded with news items about Johan Santana from 2009 and 2010 about how he doesn’t get any run support. One story from yesteryear called him the “Unluckiest Pitcher in Baseball.” It’s not a stretch.

Take into consideration our divisional rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies. You can pretty much count on Roy Halladay going out there every time and notch another quality start into his belt. In reality, the Phillies only have to score one more run than the other team and maybe tack on an insurance run or two to prevent the other team from coimng back. It has been the Mets’ experience that not only does Halladay shut them down, but the offense tacks on one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, TEN runs for Halladay.

I can’t comment on the atmosphere of the Mets clubhouse, but part of me wonders if when Santana’s pitching, the hitters feel like they can be lax in their jobs. I’m not saying that having the stability of Johan Santana is a bad thing; the hitters take for granted that Santana is going to go out there and shut down the opponent and strike out 10 or 11 batters. I am worried about R.A. Dickey in this same fashion. Dating back to last year, Dickey has 13 straight quality starts. What’s to prevent Ike Davis from saying, “R.A. won’t let off more than three runs. I can chill” or “We have Johan freaking Santana. I can chill.”

Baseball is a two way street. Just as the pitchers have to pitch well, the hitters have to hit the ball. If Johan pitches well, isn’t entitled to more than three runs of support per start over the course of 25-30 starts?

 

A Baseball Chick’s Scouting Report: Starting Pitching

Happy Friday and welcome to another installment of A Baseball Chick’s Scouting Report! This week, I take a look at our starting pitching. The rotation hasn’t changed much, except for the fact that Johan Santana might actually throw the ball for the Mets this year. I will be critiquing the 2012 projected rotation of R.A. Dickey, Dillon Gee, Jonathan Niese, Mike Pelfrey, and Santana. However, if one of these guys does this injured, I fully expect to see Matt Harvey crack the rotation because that’s just what the Mets do.

R.A. Dickey: Of the five guys in our starting rotation, Dickey is really the only one I don’t have to worry about. The knuckleballer was the only consistent part of our rotation last season, even though the team couldn’t get him a win to save their lives. When it mattered and when it didn’t matter, you could count on Dickey to keep them in the game. And now that’s back from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (without incident), he can focus on the 2012 season. I have nothing bad to say about R.A. Dickey; I hope we sign him for two more years.

Dillon Gee: Of the five guys in our starting rotation, I almost don’t have to worry about Dillon Gee. The thought of a sophomore slump creeps into the back of my head. At the same time, I think Gee will be more acclimated to pitching a full season, so that September slump Gee had last season won’t happen again. Is Dillon Gee or ace of the future? No. Is Dillon Gee a solid #3 or 4 starter? Yes. I expect Gee to improve where it matters and hopefully, we get to keep pre-All Star break Dillon Gee and get rid of that other guy. And yes, sports journalists everywhere willl be able to make their own Dillon Gee inspired headlines (and I plan to also).

Jonathan Niese: This is where I start my worrying. Yes, Jonathan Niese was born to be a Met. His numbers worsened from 2010 to 2011 (even though he pitched less innings in 2011). I don’t know, given his injury history, if Jonathan Niese can imrove on last season’s numbers: 11-11 with a 4.70 ERA in 157.1 innings. When Niese first cracked the rotation in 2008, he was under Jerry Manuel, who kept pitchers in until they threw 100 pitches and then went to the bullpen. Terry Collins keeps pitchers in until they get tired and for Niese, it always seems to be at the 100 pitch count, whether he’s thrown four innings or seven innings. I really like Jonathan Niese and I want to see him improve, but I wish the front office would have given Chris Capuano the damn two years.

Mike Pelfrey: I really wish the front office would have given Chris Capuano the damn two years. Mike Pelfrey got a raise for sucking at his job. I wish I could get a raise for licking things with my unusally long tongue. During his tenure with the Mets, Pelfrey accrued a 50-54 record with a career ERA of 4.40. Last season was the first season where Pelfrey didn’t win at least 10 games, after he went 7-13. Of the guys in the rotation, Mike Pelfrey has the most to prove. It seems like that we, as fans, expected a lot more of Mike Pelfrey because he was our de facto ace last season. And the Mets told him that. And that was the team’s fatal mistake with Mike Pelfrey. And now we, as a fanbase, have resorted to making jokes about this man’s tongue. I have some, but I’m waiting for the season to start. If Mike Pelfrey is not in the Mr. Met costume on his off days, then I don’t feel we’re getting our money’s worth as of right now.

Johan Santana: Johan Santana is a walking question mark. He is throwing from 90 feet as of January 5, but the team hasn’t given a time table for his return. It seems like Santana is on the 15-month DL instead of the 15-day DL. Once Santana comes back, we don’t know if he’s going to be the same pitcher or even close to the same pitcher. I think that most Met fans would be happy with the Johan Santana that keeps the team in the game, whether he was the same pitcher or not. Santana is notoriously a second-half pitcher anyway, so it might take him half the season to get back into the groove of things. I’m not setting any expectations for Santana because that wouldn’t be fair. If he pitches the season, great. If not, it gives someone else in the minors a chance to pitch. But Terry hopes to get 25 starts from Santana this season. I hope so too.

As of this moment, Terry Collins has not picked his Opening Day starter. If I got to pick, it would be R.A. Dickey. If Santana was able to start, again, that would be awesome. Next week, this baseball chick takes a look at our bullpen, and we have a bunch of new guys and a bunch of old guys. So this should be fun.

 

Looking into the Mets Crystal Ball

Those who go by the Mayan calendar may believe that the world will end on December 21, but I go by a different calendar: the Mets calendar. The Mets calendar says that pitchers and catchers report on February 20, approximately 50 days from now.

So while football season may be over for the Jets fans out there (myself included), we can turn to our beloved Mets, and figure out ways that they will break our hearts this season. Or will they surprise us? Keep reading to see what Miss Cleo (or I guess it would be Miss Jessica) thinks.

The Mets will finish in last place next season. Lets face it. The other teams in our division have made measures to improve the team. What have the Mets done? We let Jose Reyes go to a divisional rival and traded Angel Pagan for the guy that punched Shane Victorino to start the Phillies/Giants brawl. We’re gonna need that guy because we’ll all want to punch Shane Victorino by the end of season. The loss of Jose Reyes marks the biggest loss of a homegrown product since Darryl Strawberry said deuces to the Mets in 1990. The Mets went on to have a losing record for the next six seasons. That doesn’t look good for the guys in orange and blue.

David Wright will not be a Met on July 31. And the tears of thousands of Met fans ring quietly in my ears. As much as I hate to admit, I think this move would be more about the Mets saving $16 million than about David Wright himself. Assuming moving in the walls at Citi Field does the trick for Mr. Wright’s offensive slump, I expect him to be back to 2007 form. 2008 David Wright would be too much to ask of the Baseball Gods. But another injury would prevent David from going on the trade block. Paging Matt Cain!

The Wilpons will not sell the team. It seems like they’re already having a hard time getting minority stake holders. I guess a business card that says “owner” doesn’t appeal to potential stakeholder. I can accept the Mets being a moneyball team as much as the next fan, but Sandy Alderson has nothing to build a better team with. One of the basic rules of business is that you can’t sell the product if nobody’s biting. That goes for both the minority stake and the product on the field.

R.A. Dickey will make it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro without incident. The Mets threatened to void Dickey’s contract if he gets hurt on the climb. We need R.A. Dickey, so I’m hoping he gets to the top of that mountain.

Johan Santana will pitch for the Mets at some point in the season. He’s gonna throw the ball. I’ll be damed if we pay him like $17 million to be hurt for the entire season. We could use that money to pay Bobby Bonilla!

Mike Pelfrey’s tongue will distract me. If being the de facto ace of the Mets doesn’t pan out (like it hasn’t so far), Mike Pelfrey has a second career as the frontman of a KISS tribute band.

Lucas Duda will have a big season. The season Ike Davis was supposed to have last year will be Lucas Duda’s season this year. Except for the part where Ike collides with David Wright. We can skip that part. Because I still don’t understand how it happened.

Daniel Murphy will become the new milk carton boy. Poor Murph doesn’t have a place on the team. I mean, he only plays like every position IN ADDITION to batting third. I suppose Murph either becomes the starting second baseman or he becomes the milk carton boy. I hope he doesn’t become the milk carton boy.

Banner Day will be awesome. Because it will be. ‘Nuff said.

Looking Ahead: 2012 Pitching

For the past two seasons, Dan Warthen has done well making something out nothing. Pitching has become both our greatest asset and out biggest need. 2011 without Johan Santana was tough; watching Mike Pelfrey pich was tougher.

For 2012, the Mets are expecting Santana to be healthy and ready. Realistically, we can’t expect Santana to be what he was; I would take 80-85% (which is 100% if you’re Carlos Beltran). But Santana at 80% is better than our de facto ace, Mike Pelfrey.

With Santana locked in as our Opening Day starter (barring further injury), we still need rotation spots 2-5.

I would put R.A. Dickey in the two hole. The knuckleballer’s 8-13 record might not be the most accurate stat given his performance in 2011. This season, Dickey pitched 208 2/3 innings and posted a 3.28 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 134 K’s. He also ended the season with 14 consectutive quality starts. This is someone I want in my rotation. Dickey is also fun to follow on Twitter. His handle is @RADickey43.

Dillon Gee gets the benefit of the doubt for being a rookie. The first season is always the toughest for pitchers because they get fatigued by September. Despite this, Gee still posted a 13-6 record with a 4.43 ERA,  a 1.38 WHIP, and struck out 114 batters. Gee fits in the middle of the rotation because like Santana and Dickey, Gee still pitches to keep the team in the game. Santana-Dickey-Gee might be the best 1-2-3 punch we have, unless we sign a #2 starter. A improbable possibility would be C.J. Wilson.

We also have Chris Capuano and Jon Niese to consider. When they’re good, they’re good. When they’re bad, it’s not pretty. Capuano has the run support but not the ERA. Niese has the ERA but not the run support.  If the Mets wanted to keep their rotation younger, they would go with Niese, but for the past two seasons, I think Niese has shown himself to be an injury risk. Sure, Capuano had two Tommy John surgeries, but he stayed healthy all season, right? If we don’t sign a free agent, I’d take them both. If we do sign a free agent, then I’d go with Niese, solely based on my bias towards younger players.

Mike Pelfrey is my odd man out. I truly believe that Dan Warthen has done everything he can to help Pelfrey improve his game. But Pelfrey hasn’t done jack squat except for lick his hand, lick the ball, lick the Gatorade cooler in the dugout, etc. We should cut our losses and tell Pelfrey bye-bye.

Like I said, even if a team has pitching, except if you’re the Phillies, you’ll always need pitching. I’m really okay with the rotation we do have. Now the offense has to give Johan, R.A., Dillon, Chris, and Jon some run support. Especially Johan, he’s always been hard for luck with this team.

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