Is pitching R.A. Dickey on short rest a good idea?

According to Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger, New York Mets manager Terry Collins said the Mets are still planning on using 37-year-old knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey on short rest in the coming weeks.

“It’s going to happen,” manager Terry Collins said, according to McCullough. “I think there’s going to be a time when we are going to try it. When that is, I don’t know yet.”

As McCullough states in Ledger:

“In May and June, when Collins first pondered the idea, he wanted to utilize Dickey as a weapon. The knuckleballer was on such a hot streak back then. His arm could likely handle the strain. The team would benefit from rolling out their best pitcher as much as possible.

Now the terrain has changed. Dickey descended back to earth in July. But the team still believes he can provide a service. Now he’ll give extra rest to Chris Young and Johan Santana, both of whom are coming back from anterior capsule surgery. Santana (sprained ankle) is eligible to leave the disabled list on Sunday.”

But the Mets are curious to see if Dickey can maintain his success pitching consistently on short rest, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

“It’s possible the more often we get him out there, the better we’re going to do,” general manager Sandy Alderson said, according to DiComo.  “But we’ve got to take into account what effect that would have not just this year on R.A. and on the rest of the pitching staff, but also what effect that would have on R.A. going into next year. So that’s very much just in the discussion stage at this point.”

Image by Robert Sabo, NY Daily News

With the likely hood of Dickey pitching on short rest becoming a reality, the question becomes: is it a good idea?  Personally. I don’t believe it is. I’d much rather see the Mets use Jeremy Hefner as a spot starter — to give Santana and Young some rest — rather then take the risk of possible over-using R.A..  I understand the pros: 1) More starts increases his chances of becoming the clubs first 20-game winner since Frank Viola did it in 1990  2) Throwing a knuckleball is less stressful than that of a traditional pitcher 3) Sending your best starter to the mound more often could put the Mets back into contention. That said,  pitchers, especially, are creatures of habit. And so, disrupting the routines of the entire staff could  have a negative effect of the other members of the Mets starting rotation. The bottom line, while throwing a knuckleball is less stressful than a traditional pitcher, R.A. is not a traditional knuckleballer.  And so, we don’t know for certain what effect the extra work load could have on the all-star for not only this year, but next year as well.

In 21 starts this season, Dickey is 14-2 with a 2.83 ERA, good for fifth in the National League:

 

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