Rushing the knuckleball fraternity
Because he only completely committed himself to the knuckleball five years ago, R.A. Dickey figures he’s “about 26 in knuckleball years.” Which means he’s still in the process of learning.
“The scouting report on me over the past couple years has been get into fastball counts, and you’ll get fastballs,” Dickey said. “Well this year it’s been a little bit different, and I think that’s really helped. I don’t just throw a token fastball 2-0 or 3-1 now. You’re going to get a knuckleball.”
Dickey has been throwing more knuckleballs on the whole. In comparison to years past, when he threw between 63 and 67 percent knucklers, according to the web site Fangraphs.com, Dickey has thrown the pitch nearly 75 percent of the time over his first two starts of this season.
By comparison, Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield has thrown the pitch 84 percent of the time over his 18-year career.
When Wakefield and Dickey spoke prior to Tuesday’s game, Wakefield told him simply to trust in the pitch. For the first time in his career, Dickey is doing so, providing the most convincing evidence that he may be able to sustain his recent gains at the age of 35.
I think it’s just a matter of the maturation of the pitch,” he said. “This is my fifth year to throw it, and every year you learn a little something more with it. That’s why it’s been a nice journey with me for this pitch.”
—–Follow along on Twitter @anthonydicomo