On espn’s Sunday Night Baseball tonight, the Mets R.A. Dickey will take the mound against the Yankees. Dickey has thrown back to back one-hitters in his last two starts, and currently leads MLB in wins (11), ERA (2.00), and WHIP (0.89), and is 4th in strikeouts (103); amazing stats when you consider that he is a knucklerballer. If you watch the game (or any of the network’s constant self promoting) you’ll hear a lot of “expert analysts” talk about how great he is. How he’s having such tremendous success because he throws harder than other knucklers have in the past, and is “hitting his spots” with pinpoint control. You’ll probably even hear somebody mention that he is “the best pitcher in the game right now.” Well guess what. He’s not.
Does it really make any sense that a 37 year old pitcher could reinvent himself and suddenly become virtually unhittable? There is no precedent for that. But you known what has happened before? Knuckleball pitchers having ridiculous runs of short term dominance, because the pitch itself is inherently wild and crazy and unpredictable.
On August 13, 1995, a young Boston Red Sox hurler won his 10th consecutive start (not just ten wins in a row without a loss and some no decisions mixed in; he wonevery single time he took the mound), a pretty remarkable feat. On that day his record stood at 14-1, his ERA was a minuscule 1.65, and his WHIP was an extremely impressive 1.03. His name? Tim Wakefield. But, in his final ten starts that season Wakefield went 2-7 with a 5.60 ERA and WHIP of 1.49. My point? I think R.A. Dickey’s five minutes are almost up.
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