Fantasy Baseball Player Profiles: Another Look at R.A. Dickey

Friends, I have something that I need to tell you all. I hope you’re all sitting down. Are you ready for this?

Something is wrong with R.A. Dickey. In 2012, he was a bright spot on a dismal Mets team. Now in 2013, he’s one of many big name Blue Jays that’s just not getting the job done.

Okay, not exactly a big scoop.

Now, here’s the problem. I have no idea what the problem is. It could be any number of things.

  • Maybe Dickey is having a rough time adjusting to the American League. You wouldn’t think the DH would lead to such a drastic turnaround, but never underestimate the mental element here. In the National League, you know that the pitcher going to bat. So, if you’re in the bottom half of the lineup, you know that a virtually automatic out is coming. 
  • Maybe he’s having a hard time adjusting to a better hitter’s yard in Rogers Centre. Toronto’s park is spacious, but it tends to be significantly more live than Citi Field.
  • Maybe the knuckleball is a bad pitch in a dome. It makes some sense, as the wind can blow a pitch like that around more than any other pitch.
  • Maybe Dickey is just 38 and had one great but final hurrah in 2012.
  • Maybe the league has figured out Dickey’s timing with the knuckleball.
  • Maybe he’s having having a hard time with the Toronto catchers, as knuckleballs are more difficult to catch.
  • Maybe Dickey isn’t feeling 100 percent. Actually, he definitely isn’t but maybe it’s hurting more than we realize.

It could be any or all of the things listed above. It could be something different. It could just be that the season is still really early and Dickey will eventually find a groove and return to the form we saw in 2012. After all, he’s not the only ace to have a rough go of things early. Matt Cain and David Price have both struggled, but aren’t warranting too much panic. So, should Dickey?

In a word, yes. See, in the case of Cain, Price, or any other struggling arms, they have other pitches they can rely on. They can mix speeds and avoid pitches that they’re struggling with until they work their way out of the jam. 

When Dickey’s struggling, he’s got one pitch to fall back on. Worse, there’s not much you can really do with a knuckleball. While it could be anything listed above that’s bothering Dickey, the knuckleball is a factor, and it’s also going to make coming out of his struggles very difficult.

Worse off, the American League East is much more difficult than anyone here expected. We were thinking that the traditional big market powers, the Yankees and the Red Sox, would have down years. So far, that hasn’t happened. Additionally, Baltimore hasn’t collapsed, as was somewhat expected. Tampa’s having a bad year, especially with the bats, but one struggling opponent out of the four you face most often still makes for a rough recovery from Dickey.

At this point, Dickey’s fantasy owners (author included) have to be almost hoping that something is wrong with him physically. Of course, nothing serious, but he’s like Roy Halladay. If the problem isn’t an injury, than it’s hard to say anything other than he’s just a pitcher in his 30’s who’s lost his touch.

So, here’s the question. What should you do with Dickey? Well, let’s take a look at his next five probable starts (starting tonight) before answering that question.

  • Thursday, 5/9: at Tampa Bay
  • Wedneday, 5/15: vs. San Francisco
  • Tuesday, 5/21: vs. Tampa Bay
  • Sunday, 5/26: vs. Baltimore
  • Sunday, 5/31: at San Diego

So, again, what should you do? Well, right now, you need to be shopping him. Hopefully someone in your league likes big names and will give you a pile of talent for the reigning N.L. Cy Young Award winner. Big name hunters do exist in fantasy baseball, some of them are even good owners. They’re also generally the last to realize when a big name player takes a step in the wrong direction.

If you can’t get that, then hold on to Dickey, probably leaving him on the bench for start against the Orioles, and possibly for the outing against the Giants. Generally speaking, even when the Giants and Rays are winning, they’re doing so with good pitching. The Giants haven’t had that in a big way this year, but are still winning. So, the bats are there. Just evaluate your team when deciding on that outing, and Baltimore’s.

But the starts against the Rays and Padres should be good for him. If he hasn’t turned a corner by the end of May, it’s time to make a clean break from Dickey. That would be a rough third of the season for a knuckleball guy. If it’s not turned around by then, I wouldn’t hold my breath that it will in the summer months, when the weather is warmer and the hitters tend to be a bit more dominant.

So, in the end. Look for a trade right now. If you can’t find one, give him until the end of the month. You should be panicked and looking for other ways to get strong pitching.

Tags: R.A. Dickey Struggling Pitchers Toronto Blue Jays

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