I always rant that RA Dickey (all knuckleballers) get short shifted in a MLB dominated by fast throwing pitchers - that knuckleballers get pulled before it is necessary based on a set of metrics in which they are by definition, outliers.
I did so again last night as Toronto Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons pulled Dickey after facing 2 batters in the bottom of the 6th in a 2-0 game.
My friend argued that Gibby takes him out not based on pitch count (or in other words - not based on metrics that can't be applied across the board to every sort of pitcher - and especially to knuckleballers) - but rather when he is no longer effective.
His point I think, was that in the 6th inning Dickey allowed 2 consecutive base hits ... so Gibby pulled him (and brought in Biagini - who bent but did not break):
|Dickey gets pulled in favour of Biagini in the 6th inning - espn boxscore play-by-play TOR at LAA Sept 16 2016 - http://www.espn.com/mlb/playbyplay?gameId=360916103|
My rejoinder was that great pitchers bend - but they do not break ... but with knuckleballers, managers always assume the light throwing pitchers are about to get slammed - so they replace them before they can prove that they can bend and not break.
My interlocutor responded that Gibby pulls him in high leverage situations with the game on the line because Dickey leads the leagues in Home Runs allowed - in other words - Gibby pulled Dickey because he was no longer effective in the specific situation last night.
Hmmm ... could he be right?
So I looked it up - and according to TeamRankings.com, my friend was correct (almost):
R.A. Dickey has allowed the 8th most Home Runs by a 2016 MLB Starting Pitcher. Dickey is 67th of 76 Starting Pitchers in Runs Allowed as of September 17, 2016.
|Image via TeamRankings MLB 2016, Starting Pitchers, Home Runs Allowed - retrieved Sept 17, 2016 | https://www.teamrankings.com/mlb/player-stat/home-runs-allowed|
I'm still convinced there is a bias in the baseball craft practitioners cult against knuckleballers - but I'm going to have to refine my thinking on it ... because I have a baseball friend who constantly contradicts my 'knowledge' with deep reasoned arguments!
They killed Kenny!