Riding with the Wind, ’14: An Apology

Usually we use the word “apology” to say “I’m sorry”. That’s not what I’m doing here. I’m using the word apology as the transliterated form of the Greek word ‘apologia’, meaning ‘defense’. In other words I’m going to defend something or someone. In this case I’m going to defend something AND someone, because the something can’t be separated from the someone. They are linked inextricably.

On Friday April 11, 2014 Dustin McGowan was credited with his first win as a starting pitcher since 2008. It was one of those feel-good moments that have been too few and too far between for the Jays over the last several seasons. Not only did he get the win, but he threw 6.1 IP of shutout ball against the Orioles at Camden Yards. It was heady stuff.

Perhaps you recall the immediate variables that helped to make this a story:

  • a good fielding team had to make 2 errors to help a scuffling offense;
  • hard-hit balls had to be caught by the Jays’ defense, an Achilles heel in 2013;
  • Dusty had to shut down a potent offense that typically feasts on Jays’ pitching;
  • good coaching decisions and timing needed to play a role, since Dusty’s still just getting his feet wet in MLB again.

I suppose a host of other unseen and unthought-of factors played roles, too, but this is good enough for a good story.  These don’t even scratch the surface of all the years of agony and disappointment for McGowan, the Jays, and their fans.

The Something

The bullpen for the Toronto Blue Jays is the Something. A lot of effort and energy has gone into this facet of the team. It has been somewhat frustrating and more than a little bewildering to watch the Jays focus so intently on this as the something. Why not the rotation? Why not the defense? Why not the offense? Why spend so much time on the bullpen, for crying out loud?

Since 2010, its several incarnations have appeared as follows. The players listed are the most oft-used bullpen pitchers:

  • 2010: Gregg, Camp, Janssen, Frasor, Downs;
  • 2011: Francisco, Janssen, Camp, Rauch, Frasor, Rzepczynski;
  • 2012: Janssen, Villanueva, Oliver, Frasor, Cordero, Perez;
  • 2013: Janssen, Loup, Cecil, Delabar, Oliver.

The first couple of seasons, 2010-2011, were years of ‘try, try again.’ Not many cried when Gregg wasn’t re-signed; I almost did when Downs wasn’t. Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch still give some Jays’ fans recurring nightmares, partly because Frankie F cost the Jays Mike Napoli. That’s another story for another time, though. Rzep was a quality LOOGY+ and young, too, but he was part of the price for a young CF.

It began to come together in 2012, experimenting with Janssen as the Closer and bringing quality LHP Darren Oliver on board. Cordero was a bust. Frasor was reliable and had a rubber arm. The starting rotation fell apart in mid-June, though. JA Happ and others were acquired near the deadline to shore up the ‘pen and the rotation, but the season was lost anyways. Shipping Travis Snider to PIT for Brad Lincoln was a little painful, too.

It was supposed to gel in 2013. Big off season trades, combined with a stronger ‘pen, were key parts of a seemingly well-rounded team. Steve Delabar showed he was for real, Brett Cecil was looking sharp early and if they could ever get Sergio Santos to stay healthy, his fastball and slider were deadly. But nothing gelled, nothing at all. It all fizzled amid great-but-frustratingly-unmet expectations. Well, check that: the bullpen gelled. They were solid all season.

Fast forward to 2014 after an off season of virtual non-activity, and the Jays’ ‘pen is even more of a shut down ‘pen than they were previously. The offense has sputtered, but the defense, starting pitching, and bullpen have been good.

At present, the ‘pen consists of:

  • Casey Janssen (CL; DL); Sergio Santos (CL); Steve Delabar; Brett Cecil; Aaron Loup; Neil Wagner; Todd Redmond; and Esmil Rogers.

They have two closers, and two other guys (Delabar; Cecil) capable of closing. They have two high quality LHP capable of going 1+ IP, striking out plenty, inducing ground balls, but also can be used as LOOGYs. Career minor leaguer Neil Wagner throws hard (95+ mph), has good control, and he’s their sixth/seventh inning guy. Rogers and Redmond are both long men who can start in a pinch and give them quality innings. Then there’s JA Happ, the LHP on the DL, who’s at least the equal, talent-wise, to Rogers and Redmond.

The Someone

This of course is Alex Anthopoulos, the much-maligned GM of the Toronto Blue Jays. A quick perusal of the transactions page at baseball-reference.com (here) will show that the majority of deals made by Anthopoulos have involved at least one reliever going in one direction. Several deals have been larger, involving a number of relievers. This focus on the bullpen was frustrating, since the on-field product was poor and getting worse. After all, why waste time on something that exerts so little influence on the game’s outcome? Because it’s the AL East, that’s why.

There are currently two bullpens dominating the American League. They have everything they need to succeed. They stand head and shoulders above the rest of the AL, and actually could get (much) better as the season wears on. Rather than reproducing the table, I’ll just include the link so you can see for yourselves. (We don’t want to use up virtual paper unnecessarily here at AL Eastbound.) Keep in mind that the sample sizes are miniscule (9-12 games; fewer than 50 IP; etc.). Also bear in mind that Toronto’s ‘pen did this last year, too, for the most part.

Against Baltimore, Dustin McGowan gave up some rockets. It’s not surprising: he’s still just getting his feet wet again, and those Orioles have some rocket launchers. His 6.1 IP of shutout ball was pretty impressive, as was the 2.2 IP by Brett Cecil and Sergio Santos. Cecil and Santos struck out 5 of the 8 batters they faced. No hits, no walks, no blips or glitches, just shut down ball. It was a nice period at the end of that particular sentence. Dustin McGowan, good start, blah, blah, blah, bullpen. Lights out. Well done, Alex Anthopoulos, well done.

Wes Kepstro

AL East Prospect Report – April 9, 2014

DJ Davis goes yard for his first HR of the season and Aaron Sanchez goes 5 strong innings.

Hitters:

BAL AA Alvarez, Dariel CF 3 0 2 0 .360
BAL AAA Urrutia, Henry RF 5 1 2 0 .211
BAL HiA Davis, Glynn CF 4 0 1 0 .429 3B (1)
BAL LoA Mancini, Trey 1B 3 0 1 0 .304
BAL LoA Sisco, Chance C 2 0 1 1 .308 2B (3), BB (2)
BAL MAJ Schoop, Jonathan 3B 5 1 2 1 .192 2B (2)

 
BOS AA Marrero, Deven SS 4 0 1 0 .313
BOS AA Swihart, Blake C 4 0 2 1 .467
BOS AAA Brentz, Bryce LF 4 0 1 2 .143 2B (1)
BOS AAA Butler, Dan DH 4 1 1 0 .250 2B (3)
BOS LoA Margot, Manuel CF 4 0 1 0 .188
BOS MAJ Bradley, Jackie RF 4 1 2 2 .400 2B (2)

NYY AA Refsnyder, Robert 2B 4 2 2 2 .125 2B (1), HR (1)
NYY AA Sanchez, Gary C 4 1 3 3 .333 2B (3), BB (4)
NYY AA Williams, Mason CF 5 2 2 0 .300 2 2B (3)
NYY HiA Cave, Jake CF 5 0 1 0 .182
NYY HiA Gumbs, Angelo 2B 4 1 3 1 .263 CS (1)
NYY HiA Jagielo, Eric 3B 5 2 2 3 .150 HR (2)
NYY HiA O’Brien, Peter C 4 1 3 1 .368 HR (2)
NYY LoA Avelino, Abiatal SS 4 0 1 0 .313

TOR AA Burns, Andy 3B 4 0 1 0 .190
TOR AA Wilson, Kenny CF 4 1 1 3 .238 HR (1)
TOR LoA Davis, D.J. CF 4 1 2 1 .294 HR (1), CS (1)
TOR LoA Dean, Matt 1B 4 1 3 1 .368
TOR LoA Lugo, Dawel SS 4 1 2 0 .214 2B (1)
TOR LoA Nessy, Santiago C 2 0 1 2 .143 2 BB (3)

Pitchers:

BAL AA Drake, Oliver 2 1 0 0 1 2 2.25 W (1-0)
BAL AA Gurka, Jason 2 1 0 0 1 3 2.25
BAL AAA Yoon, Suk-Min 2.1 11 9 9 1 0 34.71 L (0-1)
BAL HiA Kline, Branden 6 3 2 2 2 8 2.45 L (1-1)
BAL MAJ Stinson, Josh 2.1 1 0 0 1 3 1.50
BOS AAA Britton, Drake 1 2 1 1 2 0 2.08
BOS AAA Webster, Allen 6 3 0 0 2 3 2.79 W (1-1)
BOS HiA Johnson, Brian 4.2 8 5 5 1 8 5.59
BOS MAJ Workman, Brandon 4 2 1 1 0 3 1.42

NYY HiA Banuelos, Manny 3 4 0 0 0 2 0.00
NYY MAJ Betances, Dellin 1.2 1 0 0 0 3 0.00
NYY MAJ Nuno, Vidal 3.1 8 7 7 2 2 14.54

TB AAA Karns, Nate 4.2 8 6 6 3 9 13.50 L (0-1)
TB LoA Snell, Blake 4.1 2 2 2 3 7 4.15 L (0-1)

TOR AA Sanchez, Aaron 5 5 2 2 2 3 1.80
TOR AAA Nolin, Sean 5.2 4 2 1 1 7 1.59 W (1-0)
TOR LoA Robson, Tom 2.2 3 2 2 4 2 6.75

AL East Prospect Report – April 8, 2014

Hitters:

BAL MAJ Schoop, Jonathan 3B 3 0 1 0 .143 2B (1)

BOS AAA Butler, Dan DH 4 0 1 0 .250 2B (2)
BOS MAJ Bradley, Jackie RF 4 1 3 2 .375

TB AA Shaffer, Richie 3B 3 1 1 2 .143 HR (2)

TB AA Brett, Ryan 2B 4 1 1 0 .143 2B (2)

Pitchers:

BOS AAA Wilson, Alex 1.1 1 0 0 0 2 0.00

TB AA Garvin, Grayson 3 2 1 1 1 3 3.00 L (0-1)

 

Forget Ervin Santana, Sign Andrew Friedman

Ken Rosenthal has certainly stirred up a hornets nest in the Big Smoke with his recent piece regarding Ervin Santana, the Blue Jays and deferred money.  Apparently various Blue Jays were willing to defer salary in a last ditch attempt to sign starting pitcher Ervin Santana but the team was unsuccessful in their bid.

The piece implied that the deal was essentially agreed upon but perhaps Blue Jays ownership has imposed a spending limit for the 2014 season.  According to the associated press the Blue Jays are on the hook for $132MM in payroll this year – ranking them 10th in major league baseball.

According to Sportsnet.Ca, the players willing to defer money for Santana were pitchers R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, right fielder Jose Bautista, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion and shortstop Jose Reyes.

The effort by the players, first reported by FOX Sports on Thursday night, raised new questions about the Jays’€™ payroll flexibility for 2014. The team would have ended up paying the players a similar amount of money, just not this season.

The Jays, owned by Rogers Communications, ranked 10th in the majors with a franchise-record $132.6 million Opening Day payroll, according to the Associated Press.

The imposition of a payroll limit by Rogers would make it difficult for the team to add salaries if it stays in contention. Likewise, trading high-priced players might become a priority if the team falls out of the race.

While I wish Mark Cuban would buy the team and spend to his heart’s content I really don’t understand all of the sudden hate for Rogers.  Well, unless you are referring to your current cable/cell phone bill than I completely feel your pain.

I think the key number in all of this is $132 million.  Spending in the top third of all payrolls in baseball cannot be considered ‘cheap’.  This should be more than enough dough to put out a highly competitive baseball team.  The problem isn’t that the Blue Jays didn’t sign Ervin Santana the problem is the Blue Jays can’t develop big league talent – or at least to this point in Alex Anthopoulos’s career.

Developing talent is paramount to any success in baseball and one man cannot be blamed for an apparent organizational failure.  But in the ruthless world of professional sports there has to be accountability and the scrutiny begins at the top.  Who have the Blue Jays drafted, groomed and brought to the big leagues with any type of prolonged success in the Alex Anthopoulos era?

Among starting pitchers Ricky Romero was looking to be a solid major league pitcher.  He was drafted ahead of Troy Tulowitzki by then GM JP Ricciardi but at least Romero was a legitimate mid rotation workhorse – maybe even a solid number two pitcher.

Here is a quick rundown:

  • Drew Hutchison – Had a successful cup of coffee prior to injury.  Jury is still out but the talent is there.
  • Kyle Drabek – Looks like a potential bust and has not given the Blue Jays much in the way of value.
  • Daniel Norris – Is still in the low minors after being drafted early in the first round and has been inconsistent at best.
  • Deck McGuire – At this point any actual contribution to the bullpen as a long man might be best case scenario.
  • Marcus Stroman – Early on hasn’t lived up to the hype and has already been suspended for PED usage.  It is definitely too early to say for certain but nowhere near a sure thing and already 24 years old.
  • Roberto Osuna – Things were looking promising until Tommy John touched his right elbow.

There are some younger players from recent drafts that still have time to develop including recently draftees Phillip Bickford, Clinton Hollon, Matt Smoral, John Stilson and Sean Nolin.  Among others.  The Blue Jays do have some intriguing young position players as well but pitching has been the biggest issue recently so I decided to focus there first.

Unfortunately Alex Anthopoulos turned one of the best minor league prospect systems (that he built) into one of the worst and have only RA Dickey, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and JA Happ to show for it.  Various trades made over the last year saw the team move prized prospects Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick, Travis d’Arnaud and Asher Wojciechowski to acquire them.  That was a big misstep.

In a large market like Toronto with some of the deepest pockets in sports there is no reason the team doesn’t try and poach the top executive talent in baseball.  The Toronto Maple Leafs landed Brian Burke and the Toronto Raptors landed Bryan Colangelo.  This isn’t meant as a judgment of their tenures but more that they were both considered difficult to land at the time.

At this point I think it is clear the Blue Jays have to adapt, evolve or die.  There current method of drafting and developing young major league talent is not working.  Instead of using money to bring over a veteran starting pitcher like Ervin Santana use it to land a real game changer.

You might as well go straight to the top and try to sign Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman.  When discussing the top baseball decision makers in baseball Friedman’s name is frequently found on a short list with Billy Beane as the alpha dog.

Offer him a blank cheque and let him run the organization as he sees fit.  Give Andrew Friedman full autonomy over all baseball related decisions and arm him with a similar budget.  If Rogers are serious about investing into the Toronto Blue Jays this course of action could prove to be the best return on investment possible – if winning is truly their priority.

He has deep ties and loyalty to the Tampa Bay organization but everyone has their price.  Make him the highest paid executive in baseball and sweeten the pot with a stock option package if need be.  Basically whatever it takes to get his named signed on the dotted line.

A fangraphs community contributor wrote a recent piece surmising that Friedman has been basically the most efficient GM in baseball:

One name I have not mentioned so far that has had an impressive stint as head of the Rays is Andrew Friedman. Since he’s been the GM of the Rays, they have been tied with St. Louis as the most cost effective winners in baseball. It’s even more impressive when you consider the dumpster fire he inherited.

After ignoring the potential for mediocrity during his first two seasons and building for the future, Friedman’s Rays took off. In the past 6 years, the Rays have won 87 more games than they should have. While it’s not as good as Beane’s best 6-year stretch of 117, it has coincided with a relatively weak stretch for the A’s where they have only exceeded their budget-wins by 30 games.

Yes it’s a long shot but never say never.  This would be huge.

AL East Prospect Report – April 7, 2014

Hitters:

BAL AA Alvarez, Dariel CF 5 1 1 2 .263 2B (4)
BAL AA Ohlman, Michael C 5 0 1 0 .417
BAL AA Walker, Christian 1B 5 2 1 2 .316 2B (2)
BAL HiA Davis, Glynn CF 5 0 4 0 .471 2B (2)
BAL LoA Mancini, Trey 1B 4 0 2 0 .375 2B (2)

 

BOS AA Betts, Mookie 2B 4 0 1 0 .529
BOS AA Marrero, Deven SS 4 0 1 1 .333
BOS AAA Cecchini, Garin 3B 3 1 1 1 .500 BB (3)
BOS AAA Vazquez, Christian DH 4 1 2 0 .455 2B (3)
BOS LoA Margot, Manuel CF 4 1 2 1 .167 2B (1)
BOS LoA Rijo, Wendell 2B 4 0 1 0 .333
BOS MAJ Bogaerts, Xander SS 4 0 1 0 .381
BOS MAJ Bradley, Jackie CF 4 0 1 0 .250 2B (1)

NYY AA Sanchez, Gary DH 2 2 1 4 .214 HR (1), 2 BB (3)
NYY HiA Cave, Jake CF 5 1 2 0 .176 2B (1)
NYY HiA Gumbs, Angelo 2B 4 1 1 0 .133
NYY HiA Jagielo, Eric DH 5 1 1 1 .067 HR (1)
NYY HiA O’Brien, Peter RF 4 0 2 1 .267
NYY LoA Andujar, Miguel 3B 4 1 3 3 .313 2B (1)
NYY LoA Judge, Aaron RF 3 2 1 0 .267 BB (3)

TB AAA Mahtook, Mikie LF 4 1 2 1 .200
TB HiA Goeddel, Tyler 3B 3 0 1 2 .222 3B (1)
TB HiA Toles, Andrew CF 3 0 1 0 .125 BB (1), CS (2)

TOR AAA Pillar, Kevin RF 6 1 1 0 .091
TOR HiA Pompey, Dalton CF 5 0 1 0 .294
TOR HiA Smith, Dwight LF 5 2 3 2 .474 2 HR (2)
TOR LoA Dean, Matt 1B 4 0 2 0 .267
TOR LoA Lugo, Dawel SS 4 0 1 1 .100
TOR LoA Nay, Mitch 3B 5 0 2 0 .313

Pitchers:

BAL AA Davies, Zach 5 5 2 2 3 5 3.60 W (1-0)

BOS HiA Mercedes, Simon 3.1 2 0 0 0 4 0.00 W (1-0)
BOS LoA Stankiewicz, Teddy 4 8 5 5 1 0 11.25 L (0-1)

TOR HiA Norris, Daniel 5 5 1 1 0 5 1.80 W (1-0)

Riding with the Wind, ’14: Week One

Well, the first week of the 2014 season hasn’t exactly been exemplary for the Toronto Blue Jays. They played the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees in their first seven games of the season and are 3-4 at the end of a week.  A split in Tampa was somewhat encouraging; a series loss to the apparently over-the-hill-and-lost-their-skills Yankees wasn’t.  The Jays also lost Jose Reyes and Casey Janssen to the DL, forcing them to scramble a little.

RA Dickey has been (very) bad once and (very) good once, as has Drew Hutchison, though they did it in opposite fashion.  Mark Buehrle was staggeringly dominant.  Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowan, the feel good story of Spring Training, were eminently hittable.  What we saw from two of the starters–Dickey; Morrow–was within expectations.  What we saw from another two–McGowan; Hutchison–was a learning experience.  What we saw from one of them–Buehrle–will probably never happen again.  Interestingly, however, the Jays were #1 in MLB in rotation WAR before the rubber match against the Yankees.  Improvement over last season is essential, but do they have the horses?

The bullpen, sans Casey Janssen who is also on the DL, has been its usual self: solid and over-worked.  A few blips are expected, as their #13 rank in MLB in ‘pen WAR attests, but overall they’ve acquitted themselves well.  In the series finale against NY, for instance, Todd Redmond, Steve Delabar, and Esmil Rogers combined to throw 5.2 IP of 3-hit, no-run ball with 1 BB and 6 Ks against the NYY, allowing the Jays at least the opportunity to get back into the game.  This is a good ‘pen that will get better when Janssen returns.  In a surprising early move Jeremy Jeffress, who struggled to find the strike zone, was DFA’ed and replaced by Marcus Walden.

Offensively, the Jays have either been brutal or very good.  Edwin Encarnacion, Colby Rasmus, Ryan Goins, Moises Sierra, and Brett Lawrie are struggling mightily and fit the fomer designation.  Edwin struggled out of the gate last season, then really hit his stride.  Expect that to happen again.  Colby’s off to a cold start and Goins/Sierra have little-to-no experience but Lawrie’s struggles are troubling.  He came up with a good reputation, but has yet to adjust well to the big leagues.  It’s difficult to know what to expect from Brett Lawrie.  Sierra’s still looking for his first hit of the season.  Goins wasn’t expected to hit.

Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, and Adam Lind are hitting well.  Jose looks like 2010-2011 Jose in the early going.  A tumour-less Melky is a sight to behold, running hard and pounding balls all over the yard.  His 3 HR already equal his total of 2013.  Expect a 3.0-3.5 fWAR season from him.  Adam Lind and Maicer Izturis are both off to very good starts offensively.  Jonathan Diaz, Reyes’ replacement, has contributed positive WAR so far, and reminds some of former super-sub John MacDonald.

The catching trio of Navarro, Thole, and Kratz isn’t a black hole in any way, which is refreshing.  Kratz was re-called when Janssen was put on the DL, Thole has caught Dickey twice and Navarro is receiving rave reviews from teammates.  He’s contributed offensively, as well, but not enough to be a positive contributor.  It’s his defense and game management that’s in focus.  Defensively, the trio really needs to work on throwing out base stealers.  The trio ranks 10th in MLB defensively, which is a serious upgrade.  Interestingly, the teams that rank #1 and #2 in catcher defense this season are the Mets and Texas.

Defensively this team is light years ahead of last year’s squad.  Diaz and Goins have been solid up the middle, as has Colby Rasmus.  Melky’s covering ground very well for him.  We don’t expect a Gold Glove, but we’re being treated to a vast improvement.  Melky and Rasmus both have OF assists already.  Lawrie’s hitting struggles aren’t affecting his play in the field adversely, while Lind and Encarnacion are passable at 1B.  Jose is Jose in RF.

The Blue Jays are 3-4, all against AL East opponents.  They have only one off day in April (tomorrow, April 7), and no off days in May.  It’s not going to be easy for them but, frustratingly, it’s crucial to get off to a good start in the AL East.  Last season the Jays were 2-5 after 7 games, on their way to a 10-17 April record.

This team needs to hold their own for the first couple of months.  A .500 record after a month or so is perfectly acceptable, because runs can be made.  Digging themselves too deep a hole, as they did in 2013, will result in another sub-par season and, undoubtedly, some significant changes.  What I’d like to see is consistency, whether consistently bad or consistently good is irrelevant to me.  Either way, they know what they have and corresponding moves can be made.

Wes Kepstro

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


AL Eastbound On Twitter!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers