June 18, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the third inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Rising Apple Player of the Week: R.A. Dickey

The Rising Apple staff will be starting a weekly feature where one player will be chosen and highlighted on our site for their outstanding or unique performance for the last week. If  you have a nomination on who should be crowned as the Rising Apple Player of the Week, please let us know! You can leave us a comment, tweet us (@RisingAppleBlog) or make a comment on Facebook.

Even though he’s only played in one game this week, the ripple effect that R. A. Dickey has had on the rest of the pitching staff and the entire Mets roster has been infectious. We can go on and on about the ridiculous numbers that he’s been putting up so far in 2012, as we should. Dickey, a 38-year-old knuckleballer that didn’t even make the New York roster out of Spring Training back in 2010, has put himself into elite company with what he’s been able to accomplish in his first 14 starts of the season.

Want the bare bones of what he’s done in 2012? Well, he’s 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. His last six starts have really separated him from the rest of the pack. He’s put together an 0.18 ERA, only giving up one earned run 48.2 innings, three complete games and two shutouts, which includes back-to-back one-hitters, the first NL pitcher to do that since 1944. To further put his performance in perspective, check out these stats:

11 wins (1st), .917 win percentage (1st), 2.00 ERA (1st), 99 IP (6th), 103 K’s (3rd), 0.89 WHIP (1st), 3 CG’s (T-1st), 2 shutouts (T-2nd), 9.36 K/9 (10th), 1.91 BB/9 (15th), 4.90 K/BB (6th)

With each statistic, it’s just amazing to see what Dickey has done within the first two months of the season, especially since he’s not only the lone knuckleballer in the Major Leagues, but is a unique kind that no one has ever seen before. Phil Niekro said it this week that he’s never seen a hurler with that pitch be as pinpoint he is with his accuracy. That means a lot coming from a Hall of Famer of his stature.

Lastly, while Dickey became the fifth pitcher since 1966 to have 11+, <2.50 ERA, and 1+ K per IP in his first 14 starts, but he was able to get the Mets back on track after getting swept by the Reds. Getting swept by Cincinnati was a tough pill to swallow, especially since they couldn’t put runs on the board after exploding in Tampa. The match-up against the Orioles was a crucial one, especially coming off those three straight losses, and knowing the red-hot Yankees were looming in the horizon. Dickey continued to do what him and Johan Santana have done most of the season, put the team on their back and put them back in the win column. That’s exactly what he did Monday night, as he fueled the start of the fifth Mets sweep of the season.

Terry Collins and the Amazins will look to R.A. again Sunday night, as he takes on CC Sabathia in one of the best pitching match-ups we’ll see all year. Will Dickey continue his dominance of a very talented, powerful, and patient Yankee lineup? We will see. However, the X-factor to the knuckleballer’s success is this week’s honorable mention for player of the week, Josh Thole. One of the first things all pitchers say after a dominant outing is that their catcher called a good game, gave them confidence to throw the right pitches in crucial situations, etc. The defensive improvement maturation of Thole for has been vital towards the pitching staff’s extreme success this year. They trust him when they take the mound, and a pitcher can’t have continued success unless he trusts his catcher.

Dickey has been able to throw his knuckleball at different speeds and levels, knowing that Thole will be able to handle the pitch as it makes its way through the hitting zone. Thole has said Dickey’s knuckleball has never been as good as it is right now, but part of that is because of their relationship, and that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Tags: All-Star Cc Sabathia Cincinnati Reds Johan Santana Josh Thole Knuckleball Matt Musico New York Mets New York Yankees Phil Niekro Player Of The Week R.A. Dickey Rising Apple Rising Apple Player Of The Week

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