As the Toronto Blue Jays fell 7-0 to the Minnesota Twins in the opening half of Thursday’s doubleheader at Target Field, Toronto’s supposed ace, R.A. Dickey, proved ineffective again. To think the opposing teams’ hitting coach and players have found a recipe for success against Dickey is an accurate assumption.
Five Twins walks in 4.1 innings pitched for Dickey is just the tip of the iceberg. Nine times, out of 24 batters faced, the Twins’ hitters were able to work the count full (three balls and two strikes). The patience demonstrated by manager Ron Gardenhire‘s team was the latest testament in how to face the former Cy Young Award winner. For a knuckleballer like Dickey, the whole allure to throwing the floating pitch is to fool your opponents. While Dickey’s knuckleball had a ton of movement today, it wasn’t fooling anybody.
Minnesota isn’t the first team this year to show restraint and let Dickey’s knuckleball dance its way out of the strike zone, then capitalize on the pitches that do hover over the middle of the plate. Dickey has pitched 23 innings through his first four starts of this 2014 season. Twenty-three hits conceded in 23 innings represents a respectable 1:1 ratio of hits per innings pitched. The problem lies with the 15 walks he has also issued in those innings. This combination of hits and walks has produced an ERA to the tune of 6.26 for Dickey.
The Twins are the third team in four matchups this season (the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays being the others) to have laid the blueprint on the type of patient at-bats needed to be successful against Dickey. It is now time to see if the 39-year-old Dickey is able to regain his touch and get back to his deceptive best.
Just like the hitters he has faced, all Jays fans can do is sit back and wait.