R.A. Dickey is a madman this season, and he's doing it by focusing on his bread and butter. Thursday, he rode the knuckler into seven and a third scoreless against the Nationals, powering the Mets to a 3-1 victory almost by himself.
Last year's version of R.A. Dickey was great. He threw more than 20% fastballs, though. This year, he's down to around 14% fastballs, and he has the highest swinging strike rate and strikeout rate of his career. So that's why he's so awesome this year? Saturday, he threw 20 fastballs of 105 pitches, but it worked anyway -- 17 swinging strikes. Whatever narrative works, really.
Here's maybe the most impressive picture of the day:
70% of his knucklers went for strikes. That's a hard pitch to corral like that, and Dickey was masterful.
On the offensive side of the ball, Lucas Duda was the hero. He walked once and, most importantly, hit a massive home run off of Chien-Ming Wang, who was worse than the stats indicated. Duda's offense was enough, but Daniel Murphy rebounded from a recent slump by hitting into an inning-ending bases-loaded double-play ... wait, no, by hitting an RBI single in the seventh to plate David Wright, who had another excellent day with two hits, a walk and a stolen base. Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a hit, a stolen base, and a great defensive play in center field, and is making the case for continued playing time at that position now that Jason Bay is back.
Bobby Parnell gave up a walk and Frank Francisco gave up a home run, but the bullpen was fine. R.A. Dickey is going on 25 straight scoreless innings now. The team is getting on base with the best in the National League, and scoring runs.
Bring on the Yankees.
Big winners: R.A. Dickey +37%, Lucas Duda +39.4%
Big losers: Daniel Murphy -16.3%, R.A. Dickey (at the plate) -11.6%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda homers, Kirk Nieuwenhuis scores +26.7%
Teh sux0rest play: Ryan Zimmerman homers -4.3%
Total pitcher WPA: 45%
Total batter WPA: 5%
GWRBI!: Lucas Duda homers, Kirk Nieuwenhuis scores +26.7%