|Photo by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus (Yeah, that's right. I took it. Not bad, huh?)|
On Sunday, R.A. Dickey pitched 7⅓ innings of shutout ball against the Padres, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out ten batters. The 10-K performance gave Dickey 29 strikeouts over his last three starts (20⅓ IP). It also helped in lowering his ERA to 3.06, a number Dickey had not seen since his sole bad start of the year in rain-soaked Atlanta on April 18. On that day, a day in which Dickey admitted the weather conditions made it seem like he was throwing "a wet water balloon", the knuckleballer allowed eight runs in 4⅓ innings, ending his streak of consecutive quality starts at 14.
Since his damp debacle against the Braves, Dickey has been magnificent. He has made seven consecutive quality starts, giving him 21 in his last 22 starts. In those seven quality starts, he has a 2.09 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and opponents are batting a measly .193 against him. The most important number in Dickey's line is the big fat zero in the loss column since April 18. Over the past six weeks, Dickey is 5-0, helping the Mets improve to a season-high six games over .500.
For the season, Dickey is 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 64⅔ innings. His seven wins tie him with Gio Gonzalez, Cole Hamels, Lance Lynn and former Met teammate Chris Capuano for first place in the National League, as does his .875 winning percentage. Dickey is also ninth in the NL in innings pitched and eighth in strikeouts. He is also an excellent fielder, as evidenced by his 16 assists in ten starts. This is nothing new, as Dickey led the league in assists by a pitcher in 2011 and was second in 2010. He is currently third in the National League in assists by a pitcher, picking up his 16th assist on Sunday after making a beautiful diving stop to his right on a ground ball by Chase Headley.
Given all this data, the question must be asked. Should R.A. Dickey represent the National League in the 2012 All-Star Game?
Every team must be represented by at least one player, but David Wright's scalding start has pretty much made him a lock for the All-Star team. Therefore, Dickey would probably not be chosen because he "has to be" chosen as the Mets' sole representative. He would have to earn his spot on the roster.
Looking at his numbers, you would think that he already has earned a spot on the roster. Seven wins, 61 strikeouts, low ERA, low WHIP. That just screams All-Star, right? Not so fast.
Two years ago, Mike Pelfrey pitched seven shutout innings against the Phillies on May 27 (the same date Dickey pitched 7⅓ shutout innings against the Padres this year). After Pelfrey's masterpiece, his record improved to (you guessed it) 7-1, the same record Dickey has on the same date Pelfrey had it in 2010.
But Pelfrey didn't fall off the face of the Earth after improving to 7-1. In fact, on June 25, 2010, he defeated the Minnesota Twins in an interleague matchup to improve to 10-2. He was also the proud owner of a spiffy 2.71 ERA. Please note that June 25 was only two weeks before pitchers were to be selected for the All-Star Game by players, coaches and managers (fans do not participate in the pitcher selection process). Pelfrey did not make the All-Star team in 2010, despite his outstanding first-half performance.
Pelfrey isn't alone in recent All-Star snubbery. (Yes, I just made up that word. What are you going to do, kick me off the All-Star team?) In 2007, John Maine won his first five decisions and was 10-4 with a 2.71 ERA on July 5. Just like Pelfrey, he also did not make the National League All-Star team.
So where does that leave Dickey? If I had a vote, I'd give it to the Mets' resident knuckleballer. But I don't have a vote. And the people who do have a plethora of choices amongst pitchers.
There are currently ten pitchers in the National League with an ERA of 2.50 or less. Dickey is still above 3.00. Seven pitchers in the National League have a WHIP of 1.00 or less. Dickey is just barely below 1.10 (1.098, to be exact). And some players, such as Houston's Brett Myers (12 saves, 1.59 ERA, 0.82 WHIP), might "have to be" chosen before a player like Dickey is. No other Astro hitter or pitcher is having an All-Star caliber season, so Myers might force his way onto the team as the sole Astros' representative, taking a roster spot away from another deserving candidate, someone like R.A. Dickey.
If R.A. Dickey is going to become a first-time All-Star in 2012, he's going to have to keep pitching the way he has since his one poor outing in Atlanta. He'll need to get his ERA below 3.00. He'll need to continue striking out batters. He'll need to keep piling on the wins. Then again, as recent history shows with Met pitchers, that doesn't guarantee anything when it comes to making the All-Star team. To me, R.A. Dickey is an All-Star in 2012. Let's hope the players, managers and coaches feel the same way.