R.A. Dickey and the “small cadre of knuckleball specialists”

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There’s a big feature story on R.A. Dickey in the Washington Post today. Some of it you’ve seen before — about his life, his book, and the fact that he may be “The Most Interesting Man in Baseball,” to quote the article.

But if you’re into knuckleball porn, this will be great for you:

Former Rangers knuckleball ace Charlie Hough worked with him extensively, showing him a new grip and a repeatable delivery, and he later got lessons from noted knuckleballers Phil Niekro and Tim Wakefield. The small cadre of knuckleball specialists acted very much as a fraternity. “There’s an instant bond because we’re the only ones who have walked a mile in each other’s shoes,” Dickey says.

It’s like some comic book superhero team or something. Love it.  Also love the closing line from Dave Sheinin:

The fastball isn’t a living thing; it’s a rock in a slingshot, a bullet. They don’t have a relationship; it’s a one-way street. The fastball guy may love his fastball, but without that shared history, without the trust built up through understanding each other’s needs, it will never love him back.

Good read.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.