One of the things that was widely promoted about RA Dickey as he came over to the Jays was the beneficial impact that he'd have on the Jays pitcher starting the day after him. John Gibbons seems to be making an attempt at applying this now by sending Marcus Stroman and his "electric" stuff to the mound a day after Dickey and his flutterball. Of course prior to this, several of Dickey's starts were followed by a more diesel powered J.A. Happ, so it would seem that Gibby hasn't placed the utmost importance on making use of the "effect".
RA Dickey has been okay this season. He's had some great games, some awful ones and a bunch that fall somewhere in the middle. The one theme that seems to have been most consistent is that Dickey's been losing effectiveness as he heads to the fifth inning which is around the time he makes his third trip through the order. Prior to this he's really been quite a useful weapon. It's possible that as the game wares, on he's getting tired, and struggling to throw effective knucklers, but it's also possible that the opposition is finally getting a read on his pitches.
How can the Jays make use of RA's effective times, while avoiding the mess that often follows? One option is to move him to the bullpen, but this team needs starters and innings eaters. As well, if you want to make the best use of Dickey, he'd need to pitch several innings. If you're calling in a long reliever, you might already be in too much of hole to climb out of. Instead of using him for long relief, what if the Jays use him as a "short starter"?
Have Dickey start games with the expectation that he's only going to pitch 4-5 innings. This way his early effectiveness could be utilized without needing to suffer the wrath of later-inning Dickey. Dickey could then be followed up with a fireballer who'd be able to take advantage of the batters having adjusted to Dickey's timing. Obviously, this would be too taxing on the bullpen likely resulting in a bunch of extra leads lost. What if Dickey had a permanent late inning caddy? What if we had a fireballer, capable of throwing several innings effectively? What if Brandon Morrow came back from his DL stint and was willing to paint 3 more innings on top of each of Dickey's unfinished masterpieces? If Morrow comes back and is on, this combination could give the effect of an ace-like start.
Moreover, with Dickey being a knuckleballer -albeit one who puts more effort into his pitches than most knucklers- pitching just 5 innings, and Morrow being a "starter" pitching just 3 innings, could they start again on three days rest, rather than four? The schedule could look like
A,2,3,4,A,5,2,3,A,4,5,2,A,3,4,5,A,2,3,4 (assume that A would be the Dickey start, always following 3 days rest)
All the other starters would get 4 days rest twice and 5 days rest once, every three times through the rotation. Certainly something that can help a guy like Hutchison who seems to do better with extra rest, as well as Stroman who should be on an innings limit this year.
I have no idea if this would actually work. The entire starting rotation would have to put up with change, Dickey and Morrow might not be too amused by the prospect of being semi-starters and might have trouble dealing with the short rest. This also relies on Morrow coming back effectively, and doesn't relieve his common one bad inning hiccup-if only we knew which one it would be- that he tends to produce even when he's on. This would also signal a return to a larger bullpen leaving a depleted bench. I'm only mentioning it because it seemed like a way to take advantage of Dickey's great early work, the Dickey Effect, and the impending 6-man rotation upon Morrow's return. While helping to reduce the innings and wear and tear on some of the rotation arms.
I appreciate that this idea is absurd, but isn't that what AA signed up for when he made a knuckleballer his ace?
Of course, AA could also just sell the farm for Pricezidja but I'm not so sure that alone will cure what ails the 2014-15 Jays, and it certainly won't help them moving forward.