You probably know the story, at least partially. The short version is this: R.A. Dickey was a first-round draft pick by the Rangers in 1996, but he got only a minimal offer after the Rangers' medical staff found out Dickey did not have an ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Dickey's initial results were bad, but he was allowed to continue to pitch, and eventually found his way to the majors. At the big league level Dickey failed to manage an ERA below 5, then tried to adopt a knuckleball at age 30, but with poor results. Four years of irrelevance later, Dickey finally managed a somewhat decent (4.69 ERA) partial season with the Twins while working out of the bullpen. Little did anyone know that Dickey would simply take off the next year with the Mets, starting 26 games while pitching to a 2.84 ERA. His next two years were also very good, with 2012 netting him a Cy Young award for his continued brilliance on the mound.

On the surface, it looks like Dickey saw the light in 2010 and has since then been a steady, productive pitcher. But if you look deeper, you'll find that 2012 brought big changes to the way Dickey pitched. His strikeout numbers rose spectacularly, and his average knuckleball velocity increased even as his fastball's velocity decreased. Dickey's pitches were hit in the air more often and those that did go airborne went for homers more often, but that last part was most likely due to Citi Field's new dimensions. Fellow Bluebird Banter author jessef has already indicated that Dickey's ERA should stay low if he can keep striking out guys like he has in 2012, but will he manage to keep those strikeouts coming? And what made Dickey suddenly turn into a strikeout pitcher in the first place?