R.A. Dickey has been on a tear as of late. He has not allowed an earned run in 42 2/3 inning and is tied for the lowest ERA in the majors at 2.00. Dickey’s run has brought up the idea of pitching the knuckleballer every fourth day.
The New York Mets have been a surprise to most people this season and are in position to be in contention late into this season. They have been led by their starting pitching which has been phenomenal this last month. Johan Santana along with Dickey have become one of the best one-two punches in the league and Jonathan Niese has also contributed well as the third starter.
The thought of Dickey pitching every fourth day seems odd as the Mets rotation seems to be in a groove. However, the Mets have been very streaky this season. Look no further then the last four series they have had. The Mets won three in a row and then loss three and repeated that in the next two series.
With the inconsistent play, along with Dickey being a knuckleball pitcher, it makes the scenario seem more plausible. Dickey has less stress on his arm compared to a normal fastball dominant pitcher and theoretically needs less time to rest. Though the idea has been thought about, manager Terry Collins has no plans on changing his rotation now.
“Everything looks great now – it’s June. Ask him how he felt last September. He was tired,” Collins said. “And the one thing we aren’t going to do is look up in August and have this guy worn out because we’re bringing him back on three days’ rest.”
Thinking about this change to the rotation was probably never a serious consideration for right now; however, if the Mets are in contention in August and Dickey is still playing lights out, this idea isn’t bad. In 2008 the Milwaukee Brewers did this late in the season with their pitcher at the time C.C. Sabathia. It worked out brilliantly as the Brewers were able to make the playoffs. As of now, it looks like the N.L. East is going to be a tough division all the way through September with at least a three-team race.
Also, as Dickey points out, the most difficult part about pitching on three days rest might have nothing to do with the arm.
“Maybe your brain, to be honest. I mean, it’s a mental grind. Not that I don’t love the challenge of that, but it’s just all of it. You know, conglomerately. You feel it in your feet, your knees, your joints, your hips. I know I move around out there like an 18-year-old, but I’m not,” Dickey said with a smile. “I think I would have to condition myself differently for it.”