If you’ve watched the Mets this season, you know how much of a roller coaster it’s been.
From the hot start to April to the inconsistent May, to a month of June where they looked like true contenders and then a July that put that talk to bed.
August has been funny to the Mets so far, they’ve pitched well, they’ve gotten some timely hits here and there but not enough to consistently win.
Heck, their closer is hitting his father in-law harder than David Wright’s been hitting the baseball the past few weeks.
There’s been turmoil in Oliver Perez, John Maine, Luis Castillo, the usual bums.
But there have been bright spots in Angel Pagan, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, and Jon Niese.
But in my mind, no one has been a greater story for the Mets this season than veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Dickey has been tremendous since being called up from Buffalo earlier this season, and you could argue that he’s been the Mets best righthander on the Mets roster all year.
Dickey is 8-5 with a 2.43 ERA in 17 starts this season. He’s only had three starts this season in which he gave up more than three earned runs.
As far as some tough luck goes, he had a game on July 3rd against Stephen Strasburg in which he got a no-decision, despite throwing seven innings of 2 run (0 earned) ball.
And he had a duel with Tim Lincecum in San Francisco on July 15th where he was the tough-luck loser allowing 1 run in seven strong innings again.
Another no-decision later that month when Jerry Manuel pulled him for precautionary reasons after Dickey was limping after fielding a few ground balls in the sixth inning. Dickey was adamant about staying in the game but ultimately was pulled in a scoreless tie in a game the Mets would lose 1-0.
By the way, he rebounded to throw 8.1 scoreless innings his following start against the Cardinals.
Hey, all pitchers are victims or beneficiaries of their team’s offense. Not saying Dickey is unlucky or anything like that. He’s been tremendous, and he’s an easy guy to root for.
Dickey famously was born without an ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, the ligament that is replaced when a player has Tommy John surgery. His $810,000 signing bonus for being the 18th overall pick in the 1996 draft was rescinded by the Rangers, who instead offered him $75,000 as practically nothing more than a gesture.
Dickey’s transition to a knuckleball pitcher in 2005 hasn’t always been smooth. Until this season, Dickey looked like he was really never going to be an effective starting pitcher in the majors.
But all he’s done this year is be one of the best and most reliable starters in the game. 5.76 K/9, a career low 2.43 BB/9, a strong 78% Left On-Base percentage and a .278 BABIP that’s helped out by his career high 55.7% groundball percentage.
The New York Times did a terrific write-up on Dickey back in July, noting his love of reading and his perseverance to make it back to the major leagues. In that piece, when asked about how he keeps his head held high and keeps grinding, he quotes from the 2003 film, the Matrix Reloaded about hope.
“Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness.”
“There’s a real balancing act going on — for everybody in here — of what they can be and what they see themselves as, and what they are in the moment that they’re in,” Dickey said. “There’s a real battle going on. But my doubts about who I am with the pitch and what I think I can become with the pitch have never outweighed my hope.”
With that kind of attitude, how do you not root for a guy like Robert Alan Dickey? I for one hope to see him in a Mets uniform for the next decade. Omar Minaya found a diamond in the rough, finding a developing pitcher just now hitting his prime, right place right time for the Mets.
With the few bright spots on this team, it’s been so refreshing to have a guy like R.A. Dickey on the team. He’s a warrior who fights for every single out, every pitch, every single time he’s out there. The Mets are lucky to have him.
Yesterday, Dickey threw his second complete game one-hit shutout of the season, his first as a New York Met after he had one in April with the Buffalo Bisons. A measly single from pitcher Cole Hamels prevented Dickey from recording the first no-hitter in Mets history.
Instead, he threw the 35th one-hitter in Mets history, and the second one this season after Jon Niese’s gem against San Diego at Citi Field earlier this year.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Mets became just the third team since 1920 to have three 1-0 wins over a five-game span. They’ve also shutout the Phillies for the fourth consecutive time at Citi Field this season, dating back to their shutout sweep a few months ago.
The offense isn’t there right now, and really has been a disappointment this entire season. But the pitching has been phenomenal, led by Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey, along with Niese and Mike Pelfrey.
The Mets may not be gearing up for a miracle run to the finish as they’re still far out of the playoff chase. But going into 2011 and beyond, the future is most certainly bright for the Metropolitans. As long as there are guys like R.A. Dickey, they’re easy to root for going forward.