The Mockingbird

Softer, Worse, Slower

with 5 comments

A quick post-mortem (literally) on Dickey’s start last night…remember from last post how sitting consistently around 79 mph was one of the keys to his Cy? Here’s a graph of his velocity (all types of pitches) from one of his stellar starts – a 12K one-hitter against the Rays as an example of how he’s throwing when at his best. Except for fastballs and at the very end of the game, Dickey threw over 80% of his knucklers in the 78-80 mph range back then:

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 12.53.44 PM

And now here’s the same thing for him last night:

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 12.53.51 PMNot so much. It’s hard to tell, but it almost looks like he’s gone back to the ‘slower’ version of his knuckler that he for the most part ditched last season. Dickey also threw more fastballs than usual, including two that left the yard off the bat of Will Middlebrooks. The first time, Dickey seemed frustrated after allowing 4 consecutive hits to start the game, and put it on a tee for him on the first pitch — perfectly down the middle, straight as a board, letter high, 84 mph. Surprise value kinda goes out the window when you throw a meatball like that.

The second time, Dickey fell behind 3-0 on knuckleballs and then threw three fastballs in a row: 1) Called strike, 2) swinging strike 3) giant bomb on exactly the same pitch as in the first inning. I kind of get it if Dickey wasn’t feeling the knuckleball anyway, but seems like an odd call. Middlebrooks, again, was not so surprised.

Incidentally, I was in the first row behind the VIP section for that debacle (the best seat I have ever had and most likely ever will) and Dickey’s knuckle looked awesome as he warmed up between innings. He threw a half-dozen wicked darters for strikes that made me gasp, but once the cameras were on seemed to have trouble finding the plate with anything other than the slower, tumbling variety.

Written by halejon

April 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Seriousness

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5 Responses

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  1. Hey Jon,

    I’m confused about one Dickey pitch in particular last night. The 7th pitch in Napoli’s at-bat in the 1st that Napoli hit for a double ( Pitch F/X has it listed as a 72MPH knuckleball but watching the pitch it appears he’s using a circle change grip (pic: and he throws it with a ton of, seemingly purposeful, rotation.

    Obviously this is the first time I’ve watched Dickey closely so I can’t jump to any conclusions. But, on other slow-knuckleballs, see pitches 1-2-3 of Middlebrooks’ at-bat in the 5th that came in at 74, 75 and 74MPH, Dickey’s two fingers are on-top of the ball in a knuckleball grip. Is there a possibility Dickey is trying to work in a change-up into his repertoire?

    DB (@dlbno)

    April 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    • Wow…how in the world did you spot that? You are almost certainly correct. Just on pure movement (pfx and pfz) it looks out of place because it tails way more than most of his knucklers, but when you go one step further into acceleration towards the plate (ay) it stands out like a sore thumb. Most of Dickey’s pitches are in the 22-26 range, and that’s way down at 18.2 (which is what you typically see with changeups — I believe it’s indicative of the ‘drag’ on a pitch without fastball spin cutting through the air) Only one other pitch on the night was below 20, the second pitch to Victorino in the 4th that was 72.8 mph, which also had the same movement on it as a changeup. Can’t see into his glove on the broadcast, though.

      Fangraphs has a post about him tinkering with a change last year.

      Actually, the super-slow floater Dickey threw to Bradley in his last at bat was below 20 ‘ay’ as well, but you get the idea.


      April 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm

  2. The broadcast was actually zoomed in on Dickey’s glove at the time of the pitch, hoping to catch a view of the knuckleball grip. And to be fair, Tabler noticed it looked like a changeup on the replay and commented as much. I wasn’t aware that Dickey ever threw a changeup so I thought it was far more fascinating/bizarre than it actually was.

    Thanks for the link! Interesting that in the .gif on Fangraphs the changeup was filthy, but the one he threw to Napoli was absolutely hung like a lot of his pitches yesterday. Just a bad day all around it seems. On to the next one.

    DB (@dlbno)

    April 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    • Ahhhh…cool. Well, a little lucky and good on Tabler then. Without it being super obvious in the glove, I don’t know how you would tell between Dickey throwing a changeup and Dickey throwing a knuckleball that moves exactly like a changeup.

      Yeah…Dickey’s third start was almost the exact same gong show last year — one fewer out, one more HR/ER. The way I see it, he just got his worst implosion out of the way even faster this season and is now a shoo-in to win the Cy.


      April 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm

  3. […] knuckleball over at The Mockingbird. He followed up the post by looking at how Dickey’s less-than-stellar second outing of the […]

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