Different problems for Cy Young winners

May, 9, 2013
5/09/13
1:40
PM ET

AP PhotoThe 2012 Cy Young winners, David Price (left) and R.A. Dickey, are a combined 3-8 with a 5.82 ERA.
Last season’s Cy Young winners, David Price and R.A. Dickey, are scheduled to start Thursday night when the Tampa Bay Rays host the Toronto Blue Jays.

However, so far in 2013, Price and Dickey certainly have not been the same pitchers that they were in 2012.

Hard Knuckler Non-Existent
The slashline on Dickey’s sub-80 mph knuckleball is close to the same in 2013 (.226/.294/.397) as it was in 2012 (.241/.293/.382).

What Dickey is missing is the hard knuckleball he threw, ones that were thrown at least 80 mph.

Last season, Dickey threw nearly 500 knuckleballs with a velocity of at least 80 mph. Opponents hit .146, struck out 92 times and had an OPS of .407. This season? Dickey has thrown a total of 12 knuckleballs at least 80 mph, and has thrown more than three in only one start.

Hitters Aren’t Chasing
Dickey had great success last season getting hitters to chase pitches outside of the strike zone: opposing hitters chased one-third of the pitches Dickey threw that were out of the strike zone in 2012. This season, Dickey has been able to get hitters to chase that often only once in seven starts. In Dickey's last start the Mariners' chase rate was 16 percent, his lowest in a single game in nearly two years.

Price Isn’t Right
Price has already allowed six home runs with men on base this season. That’s two more than he allowed in 31 starts last season.

One issue with Price this season is that he is leaving more balls over the plate. He’s throwing more pitches in the upper half of the strike zone -- belt-high and above -- and batters are taking advantage.

Hook Is Not Hooking
Price's curveball is finding the strike zone more often and hitters aren’t fooled by it. This season he’s recorded 21 outs and allowed 10 hits with his curve, after netting a 4-to-1 ratio of outs-to-hits with the pitch last season. Opponents last season hit .153 with no home runs against his curveball. In 2013, that average is up to .323 with three home runs.

Longball Problem
In 211 innings last season, Price allowed 16 home runs. In 2013, he’s already allowed eight in less than 45 innings.

His home run-to-fly ball ratio is more than double last year’s rate. Last year roughly one of every 11 fly balls left the park. This year, six of his 38 fly balls have already gone over the fence.

It’s also worth noting that the fly balls Price has allowed this season on average have gone farther (273 feet compared to 257 feet last season), indicating that he’s getting hit harder and has not been unlucky.

Somewhat Historic Start
This will be the third time since 1967, when the Cy Young award was first given to a pitcher in each league, that reigning Cy Young winners will be opposing starting pitchers, this according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The other instances were Aug. 28, 1989 with the New York Mets' Frank Viola (who won the award with the Minnesota Twins in 1988) beat the Los Angeles Dodgers' Orel Hershiser, and on July 15, 1999 when the New York Yankees' Roger Clemens lost to Tom Glavine and the Atlanta Braves.

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