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Hartnett: Dickey Enjoying A Season For The Ages

Dickey Having Cy Young Quality First Half
Pitcher R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets tips his hat after his one hit complete game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Pitcher R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets tips his hat after his one hit complete game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

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By Sean Hartnett
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Matt Cain’s perfect game stole a night that otherwise would have belonged to R.A. Dickey.

Last night, the Mets’ knuckle-balling ace became the first major league starter to reach 10 wins and set the new franchise record for scoreless innings at 32 and 2/3 innings, a record previously held by Jerry Koosman.

There is a growing debate on whether Dickey deserved a no-hitter.  I firmly believe the call on B.J. Upton’s single should stand as a hit.  No-hitter or not, the year that Dickey is putting together is beyond belief.

Dickey’s ERA of 2.20 ranks fourth-best in the major leagues.  His WHIP of 0.94 is second-best in the National League and his 90 strikeouts are fourth-best in the NL.

His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.74 ranks 8th in the National League.  That’s the statistic that sticks out in my mind.  Dickey’s improvement in controlling his knuckleball is the reason why he’s enjoying the best year of his career at 37.

Manager Terry Collins cannot believe how far Dickey has come.

“It’s amazing, just truly amazing what he’s done. To think two years ago this guy was the first guy cut from this club to where he’s at today, I absolutely salute the guy,” Collins said Wednesday.

A knuckleball is supposed to dance and flutter uncontrollably.  It’s like trying to keep a wild dog walking in a straight line.  Yet, Dickey has controlled the ‘uncontrollable pitch.’

No one, not even Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield or legendary Black Sox ace Eddie Cicotte has been able to run up a strikeout-to-walk rate anywhere near Dickey’s 2012 mark of 4.74.

Dickey has been able to control his knuckleball like no pitcher before him.  Each time he delivers his knuckler, it’s coming in near 80 MPH and he’s mastered where he wants it to break.

I nearly spit out my coffee laughing when one user on Twitter joked that Dickey doesn’t have a chin underneath beard but instead another knuckleball in reference to a similar Chuck Norris joke.  On top of that, it happened to be a fake Sandy Alderson account.

@SandyAlderson: “There is no chin behind R.A. Dickey’s beard. There is only another knuckleball.”

It’s appropriate because Dickey not only has an amazing Norris-like beard, but also strikes fear into batters just like fugitives who turn white in fear when Chuck Norris comes out of nowhere in an alleyway.  They know they’re done for.

Dickey’s pitch comes in at slider speed and dances all over the place and only he knows where it will break.  No wonder why Rays’ batters kept shaking their heads in disbelief as Dickey mowed-down 12 Tampa hitters without allowing a single walk on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.

Rays’ manager Joe Maddon could believe what he was seeing either.  “I don’t think it’s ever been done with that particular pitch,” Maddon told David Lennon of Newsday.

Any way you cut it, Dickey is having a Cy Young quality first half.  There have already been plenty of calls for him to start the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City.

Currently, Dickey is on-pace for a 26-3 season with 231 strikeouts and just 49 walks.  Mind-boggling stuff.  Let’s hope he can keep it going…

Should Dickey start the All-Star Game?  Is his first half Cy Young-worthy?  Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.