In spring training of 2010, the Mets made their first cuts in mid-March. A 35-year-old pitcher who was trying to make the team as the last man out of the bullpen was one of those sent to minor league camp.
Give up? Retire? Are you kidding? The pitcher threw a knuckleball.
R.A. Dickey began that season at Triple-A Buffalo. He’d spent a lot of time in Triple-A, racking up 148 career starts and 42 relief appearances among Oklahoma City, Nashville, Tacoma and Rochester. That’s a lot of Holiday Inns and a lot of minor league roommates.
Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog may have been the first to report the news of Dickey’s promotion:
…the buzz around the team is that RA Dickey will be called up from Triple-A Buffalo to start for the Mets on Wednesday, in place of Oliver Perez, who was been removed from the starting rotation…
Cerrone speculated on the knuckleballer’s role with the Mets, saying that Dickey could be the club’s “long-man, spot starter, random reliever, etc., or, sort of like a utility pitcher.” Or something.
In that first start, Dickey pitched six innings in Washington, throwing 98 pitches and giving up two earned runs in a loss to the Nationals. He remained on the roster and finished the 2010 season with an excellent 138 ERA+ in 27 games, all but one a start.
Last night, Dickey continued his dream first-half of 2012 with his second straight complete-game one-hitter, a 5-0 victory over the visiting Orioles, becoming only the third player (Sam McDowell, Dave Stieb) to accomplish the feat since 1945.
Those two masterpieces featured unbelievable game score ratings of 95 and 96. R.A. became the first pitcher in MLB history with five consecutive starts with at least eight strikeouts and no earned runs. In his last six starts, he has K-ed 63 batters while walking only five in 48 2/3 innings. (It is unheard of for knuckleballers to find the strike zone with such regularity.)
Since the Cy Young Award doesn’t get awarded until the late fall, perhaps the Kings would be good enough to let Dickey keep Lord Stanley’s Cup in front of his locker until then? (Can you tell I don’t believe in jinxes?)
R.A.’s next start will be on Sunday night in Queens against the Yankees and C. C. Sabathia.
Hmmm, is it Sunday yet?