CINCINNATI -- R.A. Dickey was on the wrong side of a questionable call and the replay review that followed during the sixth inning of Saturday's 6-5, 12-inning win over the Reds. But the Braves' knuckleballer holds himself accountable for the development of that four-run frame and many of the other
CINCINNATI -- R.A. Dickey was on the wrong side of a questionable call and the replay review that followed during the sixth inning of Saturday's 6-5, 12-inning win over the Reds. But the Braves' knuckleballer holds himself accountable for the development of that four-run frame and many of the other struggles he has experienced through this season's first two months.
"I'm somewhat embarrassed about the way I've been throwing this year," Dickey said. "I'm traditionally a slow starter, but I've never walked this many guys in my life. There is going to be a correction of some kind, but it's frustrating in the interim to walk this many guys. I can take the little bleeder hits and all of that, but I can't walk this many guys."
As Dickey has pitched to a 5.23 ERA through this season's first 11 starts, he has compiled a walk rate of 4.68 per nine innings. The 3.34 BB/9 rate he produced last year with the Blue Jays stands as his highest since first becoming a full-time starting pitcher at the Major League level for the Mets in 2010.
These free passes have too often proven costly for Dickey, who has allowed opponents to hit .287 and produce a .516 slugging percentage. Over the course of any entire season dating back to 2010, opponents have never hit better than .258 against him and have never produced a slugging percentage above .461 against him. Both of those career highs were also posted last year.
"I need to be much more aggressive and have much more of an attack mentality because my [knuckleball], when it's right, it doesn't matter -- I can throw it in the strike zone to anybody and it's good enough," Dickey said. "I need to get back to that mentality. I think that's what has happened some this year, I've been a little too careful in some situations."
After limiting the Reds to one run and four hits through Saturday's first five innings, Dickey grazed Jose Peraza's hand with a one-out pitch in the sixth inning. Devin Mesoraco followed with a grounder that shortstop Dansby Swanson backhanded before firing to second base for what appeared to be the inning's second out. But second-base umpire Marty Foster ruled Brandon Phillips had come off the bag before catching the delivery. Replays indicated Phillips maintained contact with the bag, but the call was not reversed.
Dickey loaded the bases with a walk to Patrick Kivlehan and then was lifted after Arismendy Alcantara followed with a RBI single to center field.
"You're going to have stretches of bad luck and I have had some bad luck, but I've made some of my own bad luck too," Dickey said. "That has got to change."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.