Not too many Cy Young Award winners have been traded the season after winning, but R.A. Dickey was. He was a coveted target of the Blue Jays' franchise overall, as it became an early favorite to win the American League East.
However, Toronto already finds itself in the cellar of the division and the owner of the second worst record in the AL ahead of only the hapless Houston Astros.
Dickey has been a reason for this early cold spell, as he hasn’t quite pitched to his Cy Young form. He’s just 2-5 in seven starts with a 5.36 ERA this year. He’s also given up seven earned runs in a start two times already this season.
Dickey recently called out his team as being “dysfunctional,” but he was sure to include himself in that analysis. His knuckleball has been hit hard, especially out of the ballpark, as opponents have already hit nine home runs off him in seven starts. He only gave up 24 home runs in 33 starts last year.
Maybe it’s just something about pitching in the AL that doesn’t jive with Dickey. Before coming to the Mets in 2010, Dickey pitched parts of seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins.
During that time, the former No. 1 overall draft pick was a middling pitcher at best until he perfected his knuckleball with the Mets. But now that he’s back in the AL, he seems to have regressed to his old form, albeit a small sampling.
The Mets figured that a pitcher with Dickey’s troubled past was not a candidate for a long-term contract extension, especially with the team’s desire to get younger. As it stands, Sandy Alderson is looking like a genius for pulling off a deal that landed the Mets John Buck -- who is leading the NL in RBIs -- a future starting catcher in Travis d’Arnaud and top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard.
The Blue Jays meanwhile locked Dickey up to a two-year, $25 million extension prior to this season, so they’ll be on the hook next year as well.
But before we close the book already this year on Dickey, he can just as easily rediscover his unique craft and get back on track. He got off to a slow start in 2011 after a great year in 2010, but he turned in a dominant second half that season en route to finishing with a 3.38 ERA.
In what has been one the major surprises of the first month of the season, the Blue Jays haven’t played a consistent string of good baseball. It certainly doesn’t help that Jose Reyes has been sidelined with an ankle injury.
But if Dickey can get it together and the offense starts clicking, this offseason won’t look like a complete disaster for the Jays.