Daily Dose: Vintage DickeyThursday, June 27, 2013
Like the pitch for which he's best known, how R.A. Dickey would follow his 2012 National League Cy Young season was a complete mystery.
After going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts in 233 2/3 innings last season, Dickey has been a disappointment in 2013. The knuckleballer owned a 5.15 ERA and 1.40 WHIP through 16 starts heading into Wednesday's action, with almost every statistical category heading in the wrong direction since last year.
On Wednesday, though, Dickey showed that Cy Young form, limiting the Rays to just two hits and a walk in a complete-game shutout. The complete game was Dickey's first this year after registering five last season.
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Part of Dickey's struggles this season have been due to a decrease in velocity. Even though it's only a few miles per hour difference -- he's thrown the knuckleball at 75.1 miles per hour this year, per PITCH f/x, down from 77.2 miles per hour in 2012 -- it has had a big effect on the pitch's effectiveness.
The good news, then, is that Wednesday's start didn't just reflect a change in outcome for the 38-year-old. According to FanGraphs' Dave Cameron, Dickey's velocity was also back close to his 2012 level during the start. His 76.7 miles per hour average was the best in a start this year since his first start of the season. And while it's overly simplistic to say increased velocity will lead directly to improved results, Dickey showed last season that a few ticks in velocity can be the difference between a good knuckleball and a great one.
No conclusions should be made based on one start, good or bad, so to say that Dickey will be a Cy Young-type pitcher again going forward would be presumptuous. But fantasy players looking for a buy-low candidate with big upside need look no further than Dickey and his mysterious pitch.
Under The Knife
Two AL East contenders received bad news on Wednesday.
The Orioles found out their ace of the future, Dylan Bundy, would need season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, while the Yankees announced their first baseman of the present, Mark Teixeira, will have surgery to repair a partially-torn tendon sheath in his right wrist.
While both bad for the players and teams involved, the two pieces of news have vastly different impacts on fantasy. The season-ending surgery renders Teixeira useless in redraft leagues, and even in keeper leagues his value is very much in question. Teixeira will turn 34 early in the 2014 season, after all, and a healthy and productive return from wrist surgery is anything but a given. In his absence, Lyle Overbay will likely see the majority of the playing time at first base until the Yankees can find a better option.
Conversely, Bundy's best days were and still are ahead of him. Tommy John surgery means Bundy likely won't be back in the majors until late 2014 or early 2015, but there's no reason to think he won't return as strong or stronger than he was before. Major elbow surgery is nothing to scoff at, but Tommy John has become commonplace enough that recovery is more a matter of when than if. The fourth overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft, Bundy doesn't turn 21 until November. It will require patience, but Bundy owners in keeper leagues should hold steady.
Kazmir Being Kazmir
Wednesday's start was a snapshot of the career of Scott Kazmir.
The left-hander was utterly dominant in holding the Orioles to one hit and a walk through seven innings of work, but he was forced from the game after throwing just 78 pitches with back spasms.
The southpaw has been up and down this year, sporting a 4.83 ERA through 13 starts while also having recorded 66 strikeouts in 69 innings. He's been very good as of late, too, as he's allowed just one earned run in 14 innings after Wednesday's performance.
The oft-injured starter should be good to go for his next start, but it was a frustrating end to what could have been Kazmir's defining start this season.
National League Quick Hits: Bryce Harper (knee) homered in one of his three at-bats before leaving his rehab start with High-A Potomac on Wednesday. Harper exited as a precaution after fouling a ball off his foot ... Jedd Gyorko aggravated his strained right groin during a rehab game at Double-A San Antonio on Wednesday. He was originally slated to return to the Padres on Friday ... Everth Cabrera (hamstring) took ground balls, hit and ran in the outfield before Wednesday's game. The Padres remain hopeful he'll be ready for activation on Tuesday ... Yasiel Puig went 3-for-4 with a double. It was Puig's 13th multi-hit game in 21 starts with the club ... the Dodgers are "deep into trade talks" for the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco. The Rockies, Giants and Padres are said to have interest as well ... Santiago Casilla (knee) will face hitters on Friday for the first time since having surgery to remove a cyst. The Giants are hopeful he can return in early July ... Shaun Marcum earned his first win of the year with eight shutout innings against the White Sox ... Ramiro Pena will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair a torn right labrum. The surgery is thought to be season-ending.
American League Quick Hits: Clay Buchholz (trapezius) suffered a setback during a bullpen session on Wednesday. There's still no timetable for his return to the Red Sox ... Jason Vargas underwent surgery on Wednesday to remove a blood clot from his left armpit. He's likely to be sidelined for "several weeks at least" ... Chris Perez (shoulder) will be activated on Thursday. He'll most likely regain the closer role from interim closer Vinnie Pestano ... Jason Kipnis homered in his second straight game. He has an OPS over 1.100 in June ... Tommy Hanson was scratched before Wednesday's scheduled start due to forearm tightness. More will be known after testing is done on Thursday, with a trip to the DL a distinct possibility ... Asdrubal Cabrera was activated from the disabled list. He had been out since June 3 due to a right quadriceps strain ... Justin Maxwell (concussion) could return to the lineup by Friday. It's the third time in his career Maxwell has dealt with concussion issues ... Alexi Ogando said his shoulder is at "about 85 percent." He's not likely to return before the All-Star break at this rate ... A.J. Griffin threw his first career shutout on Wednesday. He held the Reds to just two hits and two walks, striking out seven ... Eduardo Nunez (oblique) began a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa on Wednesday. He's been on the disabled list since May 6 but should be activated early next week ... Rangers manager Ron Washington said Jurickson Profar is "not ready" to play the outfield yet.