In a game in which sample size is the king, do we now have a large enough sample to consider Dickey one of the elite pitchers in the game? I know it feels strange and maybe even a little dirty to consider a knuckle ball thrower as one of the upper echelon pitchers. However, looking back at the last 3 seasons one could make the case that Dickey has not only been a front of the rotation pitcher but even an ace.
Obviously the question arises, what defines an ace? Of course in my mind there is a difference in an upper rotation starter and an ace. Not all teams have an ace, the Mets went into last season without an ace (especially considering Pelfrey was the opening day starter). Is it a 20 game winner? Those don’t exist really that much anymore so you are talking about aces being only 1 or 2 pitchers in baseball. Over the last three seasons the top wins totals are 42, 42, 40 (Halladay, Verlander, Sabathia) as the only guys that could have averaged 20 win seasons and that is with a 2 game boost from this season. Are they guys that have an under 3.00 ERA? That applies to only 7 pitchers over the last 3 seasons, RA misses the cut by having a 3.05 ERA or in other words one bad start. RA comes in 10th with a minimum of 375 innings pitched over the last 3 seasons. Behind these guys, Halladay, Kershaw, Weaver, Lee, Verlander, Hernandez, Hamels, Cain, and Hudson. That is a pretty impressive list. What is even more impressive is who is behind him on that list: Wison, Oswalt, Sabathia, Price, Lincecum, Latos, Carpenter, Lester, and a host of other “top of the rotation” guys.
I also think an ace is supposed to keep his team in the game even when he doesn’t have his best stuff. This certainly applies to RA who holds the Majors’ longest streak of quality starts at 14 consecutive starts. Is the quality start a great way to judge a pitcher? Hardly considering you can pitch to a 4.50 ERA and still net a quality start. However, I think it’s a great way to judge consistency. Currently Dickey’s streak also ranks him 3rd among all-time Mets behind only Doc and Tom. Dickey’s 22 QS last year would have tied him with CC Sabathia. Again, I am not saying quality starts makes you an ace but most “aces” are quality start guys.
Maybe an ace also pitches to the situation? Dickey’s ERA last year with 0-2 runs of support? 2.43 with a .229 BA against. Maybe it’s the fact that he held the Braves, Phillies, Yankees, and all inter-league opponents to under .200 BA against?
I think ultimately it’s the confidence the fan-base feels when he is on the mound. Where would that put RA in your rankings?