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R.A. Dickey surrenders grand slam as struggles continue

May 4, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

dickey getty Getty Images

Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey appeared to be getting back on track having logged quality starts in three out of his last four appearances entering this afternoon’s match against the offensively-impotent Mariners. Over six innings today, though, the right-hander allowed three home runs, including a first inning lead-off home run to Michael Saunders (his first of two) and a grand slam to Dustin Ackley in the fourth. When Dickey left after six innings, his ERA was a disappointing 5.36.

The Jays acquired the 2012 NL Cy Young award winner from the Mets with Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas for John Buck, Travis D’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Wuilmer Becerra in one of two big trades the Canadian team made during the off-season. Dickey is just one small part of the 10-21 Jays’ problems, however. Josh Johnson — now on the disabled list — has a 6.86 ERA, Mark Buehrle 6.43, and Brandon Morrow 5.29. Despite having the third-most home runs in the league, the Jays have the lowest batting average (.226), second-lowest on-base percentage (.291), and third-lowest slugging percentage (.389). Their list of injured players is rivaled only by the Dodgers.

As for Dickey, his strikeout rate is down more than six percent and his walk rate is up by more than three percent compared to last year. He is inducing fewer ground balls consequently raising his fly ball rate. Known for having a faster-than-usual knuckleball, its velocity is down 2 MPH from last year. His first-pitch strike rate is at its lowest (52.6%) since 2008 with the Mariners.

Even if the 38-year-old Dickey were to right his sinking ship, the Jays are still in some trouble. But fixing their ace is a good place to start. Fortunately, the Jays are still less than one-fifth of the way through the season, so there is time to turn it around.

  1. bowltr - May 4, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Welcome back to the American League RA. He’s nothing but a stiff who somehow put together a miraculous season. Does not surprise me the Jays and Dickey are suckin this year.

  2. duckthefodgers - May 4, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    one good year at 38 really makes you an ace?

    • Mark - May 4, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      3 good years, actually. 2.84 ERA in 2010, 3.28 ERA in 2011, 2.73 in 2012.

      But yeah, he’s looking bad right now.

      • duckthefodgers - May 4, 2013 at 4:40 PM

        well even still, i would be bummed if he was considered my teams ace.

  3. kjericho43 - May 4, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    Jack Morris: RA needs to throw the “spitter”

    • cackalackyank - May 5, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      Morris? I thought it was Clay Buchholz.

  4. alexo0 - May 4, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    How long before he starts blaming the Rogers Center? Look at his splits.

    • badintent - May 5, 2013 at 1:43 AM

      Knuckleball pitchers thrive with lots of wind. Citibank is a wind tunnel, near the LI sound. Rogers is enclosed half the time and even with the roof open like today, not that much wind for R.A. stuff. I was suprised when he signed with Jays just for that reason. But I wish him well.I think he should have signed with a Bay team, tons of wind there in the summer.

  5. getadealdonealready - May 4, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone who has seen him pitch in the AL. Yes he had a 3 year statistical anomaly while with the mets, however his stats this year (whip/era) are better right now then any year prior to joining the mets in 2010. What is more amazing is that he was able to pitch at such a high level for 3 years.

  6. Darkoestrada - May 4, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Their injuries are only rivaled by the dodgers? Yankees might not agree with that

    • nbjays - May 5, 2013 at 7:22 AM

      Yanks and Dodgers are competing for most payroll on the DL.

  7. lbmclean - May 4, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    are the Mariners throwing spitters?

  8. uyf1950 - May 4, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    The Jays trade with the Marlins this past winter is starting to look uglier and uglier for the Jays.

    • uyf1950 - May 4, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      Include the Jays and Mets trade in above comment

    • flamethrower101 - May 4, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      Somewhere in the depths of the ocean, Jeffrey Loria looks on laughing

  9. dirtyharry1971 - May 4, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Ok how about those 10-21 bluejays? Maybe time to stop printing out the playoff tickets? But hey seriously another game where a bluejay starter gives up 3HR’s in one game, maybe dickey wants to give burhlie a run for the AL HR title this year!!

    • cur68 - May 4, 2013 at 5:25 PM

      /poo FLUNG

      Now do go bathe.

      • dirtyharry1971 - May 4, 2013 at 6:07 PM

        sounds like thats a personal problem

  10. jhb64 - May 4, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    For the first time the mets did the correct thing

    • oltanya - May 4, 2013 at 6:31 PM

      Beltran for Wheeler seems fine.

      • mavix27 - May 5, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        Alderson is finally doing something Minaya couldn’t do….make good trades.

  11. randygnyc - May 4, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    I feel challenged, like Job.

    • historiophiliac - May 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM

      Doom!

      • nbjays - May 5, 2013 at 7:24 AM

        Sadly, I can no longer seriously scoff at your doom…

        (sigh)

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2013 at 11:30 AM

        That was for the Yankees (Randy’s team). Dang, Jays fans are sad sacks. It’s only May.

      • nbjays - May 5, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        I know it’s only May, ‘philiac, and there’s still time to turn it around, but my boys have dug themselves a deep hole early. I just did some quick math and they will have to play .600 ball just to break the .500 mark by the All-Star break.

        Maybe not doom, but damn depressing nevertheless.

      • historiophiliac - May 5, 2013 at 1:01 PM

        Math is not your friend. Also, it’s where they are at the end of the season that matters. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

  12. riverace19 - May 4, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    John Farrell leaves Toronto –> pitching staff goes down the drain.
    John Farrell shows up in Boston –> pitching staff excels.
    It’s not complicated.

    • flamethrower101 - May 4, 2013 at 6:13 PM

      Yet somehow through all of the players moved around in Toronto this offseason the METS end up the big winners.

    • hackerjay - May 4, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      You do realize that the Blue Jays pitching staff was terrible last year, right? In fact, last year’s team ERA+ was worse than it is so far this year. In addition to that, the team leader in innings was with 187. So either Ferrel learned how to coach a pitching staff over the winter, or maybe the Red Sox have just regressed back to the mean after an unusually bad year.

      • flamethrower101 - May 4, 2013 at 7:11 PM

        Wouldn’t that be “progressed back to the mean?”

      • hackerjay - May 4, 2013 at 9:43 PM

        No, the term regression towards the mean in statistics can go in either direction. Improve or get worse.

  13. graymalkin26 - May 4, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Team hitting round .220, and those 3 monkeys they picked for the starting rotation are a joke…luck to win 70 games this year.

    • flamethrower101 - May 4, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      “lucky to win 70 games this year.”

      I think you’re being too generous. Heck, the Astros might end up with more wins if they don’t turn things around.

  14. dirtyharry1971 - May 4, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    pretty neat stat here

    Toronto has lost four straight and has been outscored 25-3 in that span. A season-worst 11 games below .500, the Blue Jays have lost 14 of 18 overall.
    “We’re all pretty beat up mentally right now but you’ve got to get through that,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “That’s professional baseball. There’s a lot of season left. You get tested and you find out what you’re made of.”

    • abaird2012 - May 4, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      Harry, even you couldn’t have expected the BJs to be THIS bad … could you?

      • dirtyharry1971 - May 4, 2013 at 7:57 PM

        all kidding aside, no i didnt think they would be anywhere near this bad, i never thought they were going to win the AL East either but i thought Reyes was a good pickup, Dickey would do pretty good for them too. I had big questions on josh johnson and mark burhle. I figured Josh would hit the DL like he has been and Burhle would be like a 12-10 pitcher with a 5.00 ERA. And i was thinking maybe a 3rd place finish

      • nbjays - May 5, 2013 at 7:32 AM

        Thank you, Harry. Now THIS is a post of yours I can agree with. I can’t understand what’s going on with the hitters, except to say they are probably pressing too much right now and the whole team is snakebit. Losing Reyes hurt, as he was the sparkplug early in the season. I wasn’t as optimistic as some over the pitching staff, but the bats should be doing better than this, even in an off year.

        Gotta try and turn this thing around soon, boys.

      • abaird2012 - May 5, 2013 at 10:54 AM

        Well, that sounds about right — probably what I would have said if I hadn’t bought the hype.

      • ghostfishhunter - May 6, 2013 at 2:03 AM

        BJs are like pizza – even when theyre bad theyre still pretty decent. I’d take a bad BJ over a good Yank any day.

  15. nysportsrule - May 4, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    *Noah Syndergaard, not Travis

    • Bill Baer - May 4, 2013 at 6:58 PM

      Thanks for catching that. Cut and pasting gone awry.

  16. turdfurgerson68 - May 4, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    Where’s ‘ProudlyCanadian’??

    Without fail, whenever a Blue Jay story is posted, he’s one of the first to post a comment. And guaranteed he’s already read this article.

    Another frontrunner…surprise surprise.

    C’mon ProudlyCanadian, it’s ok; no one really thought the Jays would be this bad.

    • historiophiliac - May 4, 2013 at 7:16 PM

      Gloating is so unattractive in a turd.

      • turdfurgerson68 - May 4, 2013 at 7:23 PM

        Gloating? Gloating??? No gloating here.

        Just pointing out the obvious…even them crazy-ass Yankee fans will comment on a Yankee post, no matter how bad it is for their team.

      • ghostfishhunter - May 6, 2013 at 1:56 AM

        But its a funny hat

    • dirtyharry1971 - May 4, 2013 at 7:58 PM

      Proudly has a rope and is looking for a tall strong tree right about now

      • historiophiliac - May 4, 2013 at 10:01 PM

        Easy there, dude. That’s a bit too much.

    • indaburg - May 5, 2013 at 6:09 AM

      PC will be back–he’s a true fan. Just give him a moment. He’s probably in mourning and not ready to deal with jerks.

      • turdfurgerson68 - May 6, 2013 at 2:57 PM

        speak for yourself. No jerks in these comments..goofball.

  17. chill1184 - May 4, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Its still early but damm Im glad Alderson sold high on Dickey.

    • mavix27 - May 5, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      Alderson knows what he’s doing…

  18. djpostl - May 4, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    “Their list of injured players is rivaled only by the Dodgers.”

    Arod, Jeter, Teixeira, Granderson, Youkilis, Chamberlain, Pineda and a few others say say “yeah, right Skippy”.

    • bigmeechy74 - May 5, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      Yep. It is weird the Yankees have so many injuries considering how young their roster is… Oh wait never mind they are all 55 years old

  19. bigmeechy74 - May 4, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    What a pathetic team

    • nbjays - May 5, 2013 at 7:27 AM

      Great thoughtful constructive post…

  20. buffalo65 - May 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    They’ll turn it around. Thank goodness for the second wildcard. .500 by the Allstar break. Sneak in as the hot team. Run the table in the playoffs.

    • thebadguyswon - May 5, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      Time to wake up.

  21. jfk69 - May 7, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    A knuckle ball pitcher will never be an ace of any staff. Facing loaded American League lineups with the DH will make Dickey long for the Mets and their lack of run support. That knuckler is not moving the same in Toronto Dome.
    When the park first opened, many thought it would play as a pitcher’s park, because the ball didn’t seem to carry very well. In fact, when the roof is open, the closed end of the stadium serves as a wind scoop which causes a downdraft in the outfield that tends to prevent home runs.

    As it turns out, is has been very close to neutral – this quintessential cookie-cutter stadium, with its symmetrical dimensions and clean, artificial turf, favors no one in particular. The walls are padded, allowing outfielders to leap against them.

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