FanPost

Why Are The Mets Dicking Around With Dickey?

In last night's 7-3 win over the Washington Nationals, Dickey scattered nine hits and allowed three runs- a Mike Morse single in the first that scored Rich Ankiel, and a two-run homer by Ankiel in the 5th that scored himself and Ian Desmond. He threw 100 pitches exactly, walking nobody, and surprisingly, striking out only one batter. After allowing a base hit to in the top of the 7th to pinch hitter Brian Bixler, Dickey was lifted in favor of Tim Byrdak, who proceeded to strike out the next two batters, and Ryota Igarashi, who allowed Ryan Zimmerman to single, but ended the inning by striking out Mike Morse. That Dickey was lifted in the 7th isn't wholly surprising- he was pitching on three days rest, after all- but a trend in his last dozen or so of outings that Garik has pointed out is.

450x378-alg_dickey-removed_medium

August 29th

7.0 IP

7 Hits

0 ER

7 Ks

0 BBs

100 Pitches

August 21st

7.0 IP

6 Hits

2 ER

4 Ks

0 BBs

82 Pitches

August 15th

6.1 IP

7 Hits

3 ER

4 Ks

1 BBs

111 Pitches

August 10th

6.0 IP

6 Hits

3 ER

1 Ks

1 BBs

81 Pitches

August 5th

7.0 IP

5 Hits

2 ER

5 Ks

0 BBs

98 Pitches

July 30th

6.0 IP

6 Hits

3 ER

1 Ks

2 BBs

82 Pitches

July 25th

6.2 IP

8 Hits

2 ER

7 Ks

1 BBs

86 Pitches

July 20th

6.1 IP

8 Hits

4 ER

4 Ks

1 BBs

93 Pitches

July 15th

7.0 IP

6 Hits

4 ER

5 Ks

2 BBs

114 Pitches

July 8th

7.0 IP

7 Hits

2 ER

4 Ks

0 BBs

86 Pitches

 

In his last 11 starts (including tonight), Dickey has averaged 94 pitches per game- only in one game in the past two months has he thrown more than 100 pitches. That's roughly in line with the pitch count idea that has become ingrained in baseball today that dictates that the average starter throw anywhere between 100 and 120 pitches maximum per game. The thing is, as we all know, R.A. Dickey is no normal pitcher. He's a knuckleball pitcher. And, among other things, what are knuckleball pitchers known for? Their durability and stamina. Because the knuckleball is thrown considerably slower than other pitches, there's less stress on the arm. That translates into the pitcher being able to throw more pitches per game, and more innings per year.

It simply does not make sense that the Mets are so "careful" with Dickey. Forget the above stretch of the past two months above- he's only thrown more than 100 pitches in 12 of his 28 starts this season. That's 42% of the games he's pitched in 2011. That means that he's thrown fewer than 100 pitches in 16 starts this season, or 58%. It makes sense he be removed early the two starts where injured himself in game- May 26th against the Chicago Cubs and June 16th against the Atlanta Braves, because of his plantar bursitis and pulled glute muscle, respectively. The rest, though?

My only hypothesis is that management is worried about Dickey throwing so many innings, and don't want to overload him. He's up to 180 IP for the year, and still has about five or so more to go. Because he's spent a lot of time in his career, bouncing up and down from the Minors League to the Major League, and back, as both a starter and a reliever, he's never had a stretch where he's accumulated as many innings as he will between 2010 and 2011. Between AAA-Buffalo and the Mets last season, he pitched 235 innings. This season, as mentioned, he has 5 more starts to make, and ZiPS is projecting him to finish with 205 innings for 2011. Combined, that's 440 innings in two years. Before that, his career high was set back in 2007-2008, when he pitched 169.1 innings for the Nashville Sounds (his hometown team!), the AAA affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers and 162 innings for the Seattle Mariners and their AAA affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers, for a total of 331.1 innings in total. That worry is seemingly mitigated by the fact that, again, R.A. Dickey is a knuckleball pitcher, and historically, knuckleball pitchers can handle a heavier workload than conventional pitchers, per game and per year.

Another thing: In 11 of the games he's been removed from the game despite throwing fewer than 100 pitches, he allowed 3 earned runs or less. In 13, he's allowed 4 earned runs or less. As we all know, R.A. is an ‘enlightened thinker', in both life and baseball. "[The Win/Loss Record] is not a good measurement", he admits, raising a quizzical eyebrow, I am sure, from those who supported CC Sabathia for the 2010 Cy Young Award, based on his Major League leading 21 wins. Had Dickey been allowed to pitch deeper into those games, there's a chance he might have been able to qualify for the win, and have a better looking Win/Loss Record. It's not that Win/Loss Record is all that indicative of how good the pitcher has been, but it's generally the first statistic people see, when looking at a pitcher, and one of the most ‘shiny'. A pitcher might have a K/9 rate over 10, or a K/BB ratio of 16:1, but those stats are generally brushed aside by the casual follower of baseball, who see Wins and Losses first, and everything else second.

It's no secret that the Mets' bullpen is far from lockdown. The 4.18 ERA it's sporting isn't particularly reassuring. Strong outings by Dickey have regularly been spoiled by Terry Collins pulling him too early, and the bullpen doing what they do too regularly. His start on August 21st was a prime example of that. In the 7th inning of a tie game, Terry decided to pull Dickey in lieu of a pinch hitter, in the hopes that the man in scoring position would come home to score. He didn't, and the bullpen eventually coughed up 4 runs. Dickey's pitch count? 82. "I should've stayed with R.A," Collins said. "I thought we'd play to win there. We just can't stop anybody."

The 2011 season is virtually over, and for most of it, the Mets weren't in any kind of postseason races to begin with. The 2012 season is right around the corner, and like the start of every fresh year, there's always a chance the team makes it to the playoffs. Hopefully, this off-season, Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson, and anybody else involved reflects on R.A. Dickey's 2011 performance, and gives him a looser reign. At worst, Dickey has shown that he's a solid pitcher; at best, an above-average pitcher. Not allowing him to pitch to his fullest extent doesn't allow him to showcase his skills to the best of his ability. Not allowing Dickey to pitch to his fullest hurts the Mets, as a whole. As Bob Marley said, "Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny." Let R.A. Dickey pitch, and let his wins and losses be fully dependent on his own performance, not that of the bullpen. Let R.A. Dickey pitch, and let Mets wins or losses be fully dependent on his own performance- or, at the least, more prominently!)

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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