Will Blue Jays' Rogers Centre Hurt R.A. Dickey's Unhittable Knuckleball?

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Will Blue Jays' Rogers Centre Hurt R.A. Dickey's Unhittable Knuckleball?
Marc Serota/Getty Images

R.A. Dickey is a Toronto Blue Jay.

ESPNNewYork.com reported Monday morning that the Blue Jays had reached an agreement on a two-year, $25 million contract extension that will allow the New York Mets and Blue Jays to complete a seven-player trade.

The New York Post reported early Sunday that the deal would send Dickey, catcher Josh Thole and a “non-elite” prospect to the Jays for top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, catcher John Buck and another “non-elite” prospect.

With that in mind, does the prospect of moving indoors have the potential to hurt Dickey’s signature pitch, his knuckleball?

Dickey’s career numbers at the Rogers Centre are not great, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He has made five appearances and three starts at Toronto’s home park and is 2-2 with a 6.55 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP. He’s surrendered 28 hits and nine walks in 22 innings, with 15 strikeouts and four home runs allowed.

However, what was perhaps Dickey’s best game as a major leaguer was pitched in a dome. On June 13, 2012, Dickey threw a one-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. He allowed an unearned run and struck out 12 in a dominating performance.

For his career, Dickey is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in four appearances (two starts) at the Trop. He’s allowed 15 hits and walked five in 20 innings, with 20 strikeouts and one gopher ball allowed.

Dickey’s career can be split into two distinct portions: There's the last three years with the New York Mets and then what he did before then.

From 2010-12 with the Mets, Dickey was 39-28 in 91 starts and three relief appearances, posting a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 616.2 innings. Prior to that, though (2001, 2003-06 with the Texas Rangers, 2008 with the Seattle Mariners and 2009 with the Minnesota Twins), Dickey was 22-28 with a 5.43 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 144 appearances (48 starts), covering 442.2 innings.

Dickey never pitched at Rogers Centre as a member of the Mets, so that ghastly stat line was all posted prior to his career renaissance in 2010.

In fact, Dickey only made one start on turf under a roof in his three seasons in New York. That was, of course, the one-hitter against Tampa Bay referenced earlier.

Considering that the movement of the knuckleball is accomplished by taking the spin off the ball as it moves toward home plate, the lack of wind inside a dome shouldn’t have a great effect. If anything, the lack of wind should—in theory, anyway—make it easier for Dickey to control the pitch...as much as a knuckleball can actually be controlled, that is.

Another factor to consider is that the Blue Jays generally have the roof open during the summer months unless rain is in the forecast. So for anyone concerned about the stadium taking away Dickey’s money pitch, there’s really no need to worry.

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