Is Saturday the day that R.A. Dickey starts pitching like an ace again? I’m saying no and picking Dickey’s Blue Jays to fall to the Royals in Kansas City. From his first two starts, last year’s National League Cy Young award winner has an 8.40 ERA. This is really skewed by one particularly horrible performance against the Boston Red Sox last Sunday, but still, Dickey is having trouble controlling his fluttering knuckleball, as evidenced by his nine walks in less than 11 innings pitched. What is most troubling is that those performances came in what should be a knuckleball friendly environment – the Rogers Centre. This game is on the road so Dickey will be faced with the added difficulty of getting his temperamental signature pitch right while pitching at a park he hasn’t started a game at since 2004.
I do think he’ll throw better in this one, but will be outdone by Royals starter James Shields. While Shields is 1-1 in his first two starts, he’s struck out fourteen and walked zero in twelve innings of work. That’s a sign of a man on his game. Go with the Royals to prevail at 1.72 as the Blue Jays and Dickey are still too much of a work in progress.
San Diego Padres starter Edinson Volquez will be happily singing to himself “there’s no place like home” when he takes the pitcher’s mound against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park. Volquez is off to a horrendous start, sporting a 10.00 ERA in his first two games. But both of his first two starts were on the road. When Volquez is at home he’s a different pitcher. Last year, he had a 2.95 ERA in the friendly environs of Petco, but a 5.60 ERA when forced to pitch elsewhere. So, while he lost to Rockies last Sunday, giving up four runs in six innings, look for a more confident Volquez this time around.
But it won’t be a walk in the park as the Rockies send their best pitcher, Jhoulys Chacin, to the mound. Chacin has thrown very well this year, but has almost no experience at Petco. He’s only seen action there once way back in 2009 and actually got roughed up for one run and two hits in an inning of work. This could be a tight one, but I think Volquez’s return home will be the decider. Take the Padres at 1.95.