It’s safe to say that most Jays fans are disappointed in R. A. Dickey. When Toronto traded for him, fans were expecting a repeat of his Cy Young season. When he regressed to roughly the level he pitched at in 2010 and 2011 – which was probably to be expected – there were loud cries for Alex Anthopoulos’s head, and wistful glances at Noel Syndergaard’s minor league stats.
The traditional complaint about knuckleball pitchers is that they are neither consistent nor reliable. But Dickey has managed to produce two seasons that are very similar to one another: identical 14-13 records, and very similar walk and strikeout totals. He’s taken the ball every time out, despite battling minor injuries, and has piled up impressive innings totals, thus relieving the pressure on an overworked bullpen.
He’s done this despite pitching in a park that is not suited to his skills. In 2013, he had an ERA of 4.80 at home and 3.57 on the road, and gave up 23 of his 35 home runs allowed at home. In 2014, he adjusted better to his home park (3.75 to 3.68), but still gave up 17 home runs at home and only 9 on the road.
What’s ironic, given that knuckleballers are thought of as inconsistent, is that Dickey has become basically the same pitcher as Mark Buehrle. Both men are durable. Both have eliminated the running game: Buehrle allowed one stolen base in all of 2014, and Dickey allowed only three. Both are excellent fielders: Dickey won a Gold Glove in 2013, and Buehrle won four consecutive Gold Gloves from 2009 to 2012. Dickey might not be what Jays fans were hoping for, but he has been dependable and reliable.