Saturday, April 14, 2012

R.A. Dickey Is Quietly All About Quality

Shhh.  Don't tell anyone.  But R.A. Dickey is quietly approaching a few Mets greats in the team's record books.

With last night's 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, R.A. Dickey recorded his 14th consecutive quality start (minimum of six innings pitched with no more than three earned runs allowed), dating back to last year.  It is currently the longest such streak in baseball.

Over the streak, which began last July 25 in Cincinnati when Dickey allowed two earned runs in 6 innings in a 4-2 victory over the Reds, Dickey has been phenomenal.  In those 14 starts, Dickey has posted a 2.40 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.  However, due to poor run support, he has only received credit for six victories during the skein.  How impressive is Dickey's quality start streak?  He's about to reach rarefied air with it.

In 1985, Dwight Gooden started his Cy Young campaign with 17 consecutive quality starts, a streak that ended on July 4 when he was pulled after 2
⅓ innings because of a rain delay (long-time Mets fans will remember that game as the Fireworks Night game in Atlanta).  Gooden also closed out the 1984 season with four consecutive quality starts, giving him a team-record 21 straight quality starts over the two seasons.

Tom Seaver holds the team record for most consecutive quality starts in one season.  From June 13 to September 13, 1973, Seaver recorded 19 straight quality starts.  Ironically, the streak could have ended on July 4, as Gooden's did 12 years later, when Seaver allowed five runs in 7⅓ innings against the Montreal Expos.  However, because of an error by shortstop Ted Martinez (who was filling in for the injured Bud Harrelson), two of the runs were unearned.  Therefore, Seaver's quality start streak was allowed to continue as he only allowed three earned runs in that Independence Day loss to the Expos.

Although Seaver's 19-game quality start streak in 1973 is the longest such streak for a Mets pitcher over one season, it wasn't the only time Seaver recorded 19 consecutive quality starts.  In 1971, a year in which Seaver was robbed of the Cy Young Award by the Cubs' Ferguson Jenkins - Seaver went 20-10 and led the league with a 1.76 ERA, 289 strikeouts and 0.945 WHIP, while Jenkins went 24-13 but had a 2.77 ERA and led the league in hits allowed (304) and home runs allowed (29) - Tom Terrific ended the season with 16 straight quality starts.  He also recorded quality starts in each of his first three appearances in 1972, giving him 19 quality starts in a row over two seasons.

Now R.A. Dickey is working on a quality start streak of his own.  After ending the 2011 season with 12 consecutive quality starts, he has begun the 2012 campaign with two more.  If this stretch of good pitching continues, he will reach legendary Mets pitchers Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden by Memorial Day.

Tom Seaver.  Dwight Gooden.  R.A. Dickey.  Prior to last July, one of those names would not have belonged with the others.  But when it comes to quality starts, those three names might be forever linked together in Mets lore.  Not bad for a converted knuckleball pitcher who only had 18 career quality starts prior to becoming a Met.

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