Bloomberg Sports Anchors Rob Shaw and Julie Alexandria discuss the top five stories in baseball after the All-Star break.
Will R.A. Dickey win 20 games?
Baseball fans are trying to figure out if R.A. Dickey is Tom Candiotti or Phil Niekro. At 12-1, Dickey is enjoying a banner season and arguably would be the NL Cy Young award winner if the season ended today. The problem for Dickey is that the season does not end today and he still has about 15 starts to go. Can he possibly continue his dominance and nab another eight wins for an even 20?
Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro attained three different seasons with 20 or more wins. On the other hand, Dickey might only win another 3-5 games this season and finish with a solid, but more expected total that is more in line with a solid hurler, such as knuckleballer Tom Candiotti, who won 14, 15 and 16 games in his career.
What becomes of Tim Lincecum?
The good news is that Tim Lincecum is on pace to strikeout 200 batters. The bad news is that he is also approaching 100 walks, which could lead to some time in the bullpen. We’ve had some surprises this year that fill the bust category. As of now both Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols join a recent trend of major free agents struggling with new franchises.
Lincecum is pitching for the very franchise he came up with and has dominated for the last five seasons. However, he is getting hit often and hard, and with a 3-10 record and 6.42 ERA you have to wonder if he will stick in the starting rotation all season long. Lincecum hasn’t made it out of the fourth inning in back-to-back outings.
Where will Zack Greinke end up?
The Brewers have had their struggles and perhaps for that reason, Zack Greinke’s performance has gone under the radar. He is 9-3 with 111 K’s and a 3.32 ERA. With the Brewers five games out of first place, the team will be in sell mode especially if Greinke does not indicate that he wants to stick there.
So what teams could be interested? How about the Baltimore Orioles, or the St. Louis Cardinals? Greinke’s presence could make a world of difference in how this ost-season shapes up.
Are the Phillies buyers or sellers?
The Phillies are in dead last place in the National League East. They opened the season without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and now that they are coming back, the pitchers have been out: Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.
The big question for the Phillies is figuring out whether or not Cole Hamels will stay as a free agent. There have been rumblings that he could be destined to the Dodgers, which would leave the Phillies in a bind if they do not get anything in return for his services aside from draft picks. Hamels, by the way, is 10-4 with a 3.20 ERA with 118 K’s and a 1.10 WHIP. He has been the ace for the Phillies this season.
Are the Pirates playoff bound?
The Pirates are in first place late in the season for a second straight year. The question is whether they can stick this time and if they learned from last year’s collapse. It looks like they could actually stick this time for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they have an ace with James McDonald boasting a 2.37 ERA with much better control this season. Next, their gamble with AJ Burnett seems to be paying off as he’s been a solid number two. Though the starting rotation lacks depth, the bullpen is strong enough to let leads stick.
Finally, on offense there are several solid players, then an MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen and a potential star in Pedro Alvarez. The Pirates lack some depth, but so far they have been good enough, and with extra wild card spots available, this team could advance.
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Mets starting pitcher RA Dickey is more than just a great a story. He is a solid hurler who earned his billing as the number two pitcher in the Mets rotation. April is traditionally not a good month for the knuckleball, and yet Dickey has five brilliant performances and one disastrous outing. On that note, he is 4-1 with a 3.76 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Though he remains susceptible to the home run (seven in six starts), Dickey is also something of a strikeout artist this season with 32 K’s in 38.1 innings of work.
Considering the knuckleball is an all-or-nothing pitch, ERA and WHIP may not be the best indicators for his performance. After all, when a knuckleballer doesn’t have his pitch, he is left with a very hittable fastball. That explains why after six starts, half of Dickey’s earned runs came in one ugly implosion.
A statistic that is better in tune with Dickey’s performance is quality start percentage. It requires six or more innings while allowing three or fewer runs to score. In his breakout 2010 season, Dickey offered a quality start in 18 of his 26 starts (69%). Last season he finished on a tear and offered a solid 68% quality start percentage. Finally, this season Dickey has taken it to a whole new level at 83%.
Dickey’s next two starts won’t be slam dunks. He faces the Marlins in Miami, then heads north for the Blue Jays in Toronto. What’s interesting is that both games could be played indoors. This could have an impact for a knuckleballer who relies on the wind to keep the ball moving. Regardless, Dickey has proven to be an every week start in fantasy baseball leagues, and now that he is also getting strikeouts there are very few holes in his game.
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By Bloomberg Sports// Ballpark Figures: Stock Report— Bloomberg Television’s Michele Steele and Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Analyst Rob Shaw are talking Bulls and Bears in Fantasy Baseball. Shaw tells us to invest in Royals infielder Wilson Betemit, Yankees outfielder Marcus Thames, Nationals outfielder Michael Morse, and Mets pitcher RA Dickey. Shaw is bearish on infielders Alberto Callaspo of the Angels and Miguel Tejada of the Padres. For more fantasy insight visit us at BloombergSports.com.