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Battery of Dickey, Flowers becoming stronger

MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- R.A. Dickey has complimented his primary catcher, Kurt Suzuki, throughout this season. But after making his first regular-season start with Tyler Flowers behind the plate on Thursday night, Dickey made it clear that he'd be comfortable working with Flowers again.

"I can't underscore how good of a job Flowers did tonight," Dickey said. "On a night when [the knuckleball] was the best it has been all year, he was able to corral some in a way that gave the umpire a really good look at it and got some strikes for me."

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ATLANTA -- R.A. Dickey has complimented his primary catcher, Kurt Suzuki, throughout this season. But after making his first regular-season start with Tyler Flowers behind the plate on Thursday night, Dickey made it clear that he'd be comfortable working with Flowers again.

"I can't underscore how good of a job Flowers did tonight," Dickey said. "On a night when [the knuckleball] was the best it has been all year, he was able to corral some in a way that gave the umpire a really good look at it and got some strikes for me."

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As Dickey limited the Phillies to three hits and one run over seven innings, he recorded a season-high six called strikes on pitches that registered outside of the strike zone per Statcast™. This certainly wasn't a surprising development, as Flowers has established himself as arguably the game's best framing catcher.

Statcast™ data shows 9.08 percent of pitches that register out of the strike zone have resulted in called strikes with Flowers behind the plate. This percentage leads all Major League catchers. In fact, among all catchers who have fielded at least 1,000 pitches this year, Arizona's Jeff Mathis ranks second with an 8.02 percentage.

Flowers' only experience working with Dickey in a game came via two Spring Training contests this year. The two have worked together during side sessions. So, there was certainly reason to wonder exactly how effectively the veteran catcher would handle the knuckleball.

Dickey has found comfort in throwing to the big catcher. The lone passed ball charged against Flowers occurred during the second inning and did not prove costly.

There were a few knuckleballs that danced away from Flowers' glove. Fortunately, these instances occurred as Dickey was retiring 15 straight batters, a span that began in the second inning and extended through the end of the sixth.

"[Dickey] says he's going to throw some [knuckleballs] that you're not going to catch, no matter who is catching," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

Now that Snitker has further confidence Flowers and Suzuki are both capable of handling Dickey, he'll have an easier time managing the workload of his two catchers.

"At some point, I felt somebody else was going to have to catch [Dickey] and Tyler had been doing a lot of bullpen work with him," Snitker said. "I thought he did a really good job. It's good to know. Going forward, we can let him do it again."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Tyler Flowers