His strikeouts per nine innings was way down this year – from 7.1 in 2013 and 7.2 in 2014 to 5.3 in 2015. For an ordinary pitcher, this would be a huge warning sign – it would mean that his stuff was not overpowering enough any more to get hitters to swing and miss. For a knuckleballer, the rules are different, so I’m not sure what this means.
One thing is clear: during the course of the 2015 season, Dickey worked hard at trying to control his knuckler. The results show up in the stats: in the first half, he walked 44 in 114 2/3 innings, but he walked only 17 in 99 2/3 innings in the second half. That would be good control even for a non-knuckleballer.
It’s been a tough road for Dickey in Toronto. When he was acquired by the Jays, fans were expecting Cy Young Award level performance, and instead got 1992 vintage Jack Morris: a so-so pitcher who can throw a lot of innings. But persistence has been a theme of Dickey’s life so far, and it has paid off yet again: the Jays have picked up his 2016 option, which would have seemed unthinkable at the end of May, when his ERA was 5.77. And he might have finally won over the fans, too – during the ALDS celebrations, the CBC filmed Dickey making a tour of the lower deck, shaking hands and giving high-fives to happy Jays fans and sometimes leaping into the stands to exchange impromptu hugs. That was pretty cool.