Newly acquired Blue Jays’ ace R.A. Dickey is set to take the mound against the Indians on Opening Day. Go ahead and pencil in a loss for the Tribe.
Aside from the fact that Dickey is the defending NL Cy Young winner, he’s also a knuckleballer, which doesn’t bode well for the Tribe.
The Indians have lost their last seven games started by knuckleballers, including one against Dickey in 2010.
Most of this year’s team wasn’t around the last time the Indians faced a knuckleballer, so the losing streak isn’t more than a fun piece of trivia. But that doesn’t mean the Indians shouldn’t be concerned.
The real issue is that the Opening Day roster has minimal experience against knuckleballers. Only Bourn (mostly against Dickey) and Swisher (mostly against Wakefield) have any significant experience against the pitch.
And Bourn is the only Indian with any real success against the knuckleball. He’s a .321 career hitter against Dickey.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Drew Stubbs, who has faced Dickey nine times and been retired via the strikeout in seven of those plate appearances.
Stubbs’ lack of success against Dickey is so overwhelming that it should probably land him a spot on the bench in the season opener. Francona could give Ryan Raburn, who is 3-10 in his career against knuckleballers, a spot start in right field.