I have said it once (but probably more), and I will say it again (and will continue to do so): Baseball betting is all about the starting pitching. I typically (but not exclusively) make my picks based on which pitchers will be taking the mound. Sometimes, the decision is a tossup. In that case, I simply do not bet on the game because the chance of losing money is 50/50. On the other hand, sometimes a pitcher is so outmatched by the opposing hurler, that it is as close to a sure bet as you can get in gambling.
And, then, there is R.A. Dickey.
The knuckleball king is, without a doubt, having the best season of his nine-year career. There is no arguing that. He is almost certain to reach 20 wins this year. His ERA is below 3.00. He has registered a career high 175 strikeouts this season (with more games to be played, a 230-strikeout season is not out of the question). And he has done all of this throwing a knuckleball and, well, not much else. Plus, he is burdened by having the Mets offense supporting him … the same offense that currently has the second-best team in New York 17 games behind the Washington Nationals (yes, the Nationals … who used to be the hapless Expos (!) … and who are seriously going to bench the strongest part of their pitching staff).
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That being said, many of my betting colleagues have started to place Dickey solidly in the “sure bet” column. My response? Hogwash. In my opinion, Dickey is as far from a “sure bet” as possible and, because of this, I have yet to bet a Mets game this year when he has started.
It most definitely seems I am going against the grain in this aspect.
The most-used sports picking system among my colleagues (The ZCode System) has consistently placed a higher and higher percentage on each Dickey start. And this is regardless of who he is facing (both starting pitcher and team). As much as I love the ZCode System, I have had continuous contact with the coding team to let them know something is painfully wrong with their algorithm when it comes to Dickey.
Yes, his stats make him a comfortable start. His outstanding season is making him a comfortable pick. His first-half of the season may have been the most brilliant start I have ever seen from an aging pitcher … one that should certainly earn Dickey the Comeback Player of the Year award.
But, from a betting perspective, he is dangerous. At least in my opinion.
I am sorry, but I refuse to place a bet on a starting pitcher whose best (and sometimes only) pitch is the knuckleball. As we have witnessed, when Dickey’s knuckler is on point, he is all but an ace of aces.
However, when his knuckleball is not moving like a drunken sailor on a sinking ship, he gets nailed. Hard. And it is painful to watch.
If there is anything that everybody knows about the knuckleball, it’s this: It’s a fickle pitch. Sometimes the pitcher just cannot make it work no matter what he tries.
And that, simply put, is why I stay away from each and every Dickey start. There have been, of course, a few cases where I could have won upwards of $700 if I placed my bet on Dickey, but the opposite is just as true, too (I could have lost $700). I am not putting that kind of cash on a pitch that is as unreliable as the Edmund Fitzgerald.
In the end, if you have consumed the Dickey Kool-Aid, free feel to keep on betting on him. As for me, I will be playing it safe and continue to bet on pitchers who have a fully developed repertoire of pitches that are not as fickle and unpredictable on a start-to-start basis.