|ESPN.com: Buster Olney||[Print without images]|
|Miguel Cabrera is off to a fantastic start for the Detroit Tigers this season.|
What are the issues causing R.A. Dickey to struggle this season? One of them is that Dickey has lost one of the keys to what made him so valuable last season -- the hard knuckleball. Last year, Dickey threw nearly 500 knuckleballs at 80-plus mph (491 by our count). They netted him 179 outs and only 31 hits/walks allowed. Of those outs, 92 were via strikeout. It was a significantly better pitch at netting outs than his sub-80 knuckler. This season, Dickey has thrown a total of 12 knuckleballs with an average speed of 80-plus mph. In other words, he's thrown fewer in seven starts this season than he did in an average start in 2012.