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Is R.A. Dickey the Real Deal?

Posted By Jim Mancari On Aug 19 2010 @ 1:10 pm In New York Mets | 2 Comments

Robert Alan Dickey was drafted by the Texas Rangers as the 18th overall pick in the 1996 draft. He made his debut with Texas in 2001 as a spot-starter/reliever who could throw in the mid-to-high 80s and had a decent curve and forkball. He decided to perfect his forkball, which actually turned out to be a hard knuckleball.

Dickey earned the 5th starter’s spot for Texas in 2006, only to be demoted after his first start in which he allowed six home runs (a modern era record). He set another MLB record two years later for the Seattle Mariners when he threw four wild pitches in one inning. Last year, Dickey pitched in 35 games as a mop-up reliever for the Minnesota Twins.

He signed with Mets this offseason as a minor league free agent. The Mets figured they could add some depth to their minor league system, even though Dickey was 35 years old. Dickey pitched well for AAA Buffalo, including a one-hitter. He was recalled on May 19 to take the place of the injured Jon Niese. The move was expected to be temporary.

Dickey tossed six innings of two run ball and picked up a no decision. In 17 starts since his debut, he has pitched brilliantly, collecting 8 wins (one shy of his career high) with a 2.41 ERA. He even threw the 35th one-hitter in Mets history against the Phillies on August 13. Ironically, Cole Hamels, the opposing pitcher, got the only hit.

He pitched well last night, allowing only two runs in 8.1 innings of work. However, once again the Mets could not muster enough runs to get Dickey the win. Geoff Blum’s mammoth HR in the bottom of the 9th erased Dickey’s chance for a victory. The Mets later won in14 innings.

So let’s revisit the opening question: Is R.A. Dickey the real deal?

It can be answered simply: ABSOLUTELY.

Dickey’s knuckleball has baffled opposing hitters all season long. He has been a real shot in the arm for this team at a time when they desperately needed it. Start after start, Dickey has showed his guts on the mound and made the most of his opportunity. He even verbally fought Jerry Manuel on the mound during his start in LA, when Manuel took him out of the game after he slipped off the rubber.

Dickey turns 36 in October, but it appears as though he has figured himself out on the mound. As a knuckleballer, his durability is greater than a fastball/curveball pitcher of the same age. His story is similar to those of Curt Schilling and Jaime Moyer, who experienced their most success after age 34. Sometimes it takes a little longer for a pitcher to come into his own, but once he does, he’s unstoppable.

The real question is whether or not the Mets will choose to resign Dickey. If he continues to pitch like he has, I see no way the Mets let him go. They will most likely try to sign Dickey to a one year deal in maybe the $1-3 million range. However, if another team offers him a multi-year contract, the Mets may have to match the offer to retain Dickey.

It appears that Dickey will be a factor in the Mets’ future plans, and through his performance, he has made a serious case for the MLB Comeback Player of the Year Award.

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