When the Jays acquired Dickey from the Mets before the 2013 season, many expected him to continue to be the Cy Young pitcher he was. As a result, many have been disappointed with the production that we've seen from him over the last few seasons. But, I've always been in Dickey's corner as I would argue that he's been exactly what he needs to be. At $12 million a year he's been great. He's averaged 218+ innings a year since he arrived in Toronto and consistently gives the team a chance to win. Additionally, his strong defense has been a plus.
But, the time might have finally come that the Jays need to move on from Dickey. Dickey hasn't looked good so far this season as he currently has a WAR of .3. Dickey's numbers are rather alarming at the moment. He's got a 1-3 record and an ERA of 6.75. His xFIP of 4.35 suggests that he's had some bad luck, but that's still not a great number.
Dickey is a known to be a slow starter. In fact, last season, he held a 0-3 record with a 5.23 ERA at the end of April. So, it's easy to think that he could turn it around. But, the number that becomes alarming is that in his 5 starts he's only thrown 26.2 innings. This means he's averaging 5.3 innings per game, which is last among Jays' starters. Through his first 5 starts in 2015 Dickey averaged 6.2 innings per start.
Why is this alarming?
Most of Dickey's value lies in his durability and ability to give you 200+ innings in a season. He's helped the Jays over the last few years by pitching a lot of innings and helping lighten the load for the bullpen. When he's actually on the mound his pitching has been decent. But, it's usually supplemented by his ability to go deep into games. If he can't do that anymore, then there's multiple reasons to consider moving him to the bullpen.
The first reason is Drew Hutchison. Hutchison's struggles last season are well documented. But, the Jays still have plans for him to contribute to the teams rotation in the future. At 25 there's still a lot of hope for Hutchison. Hutch has thrown well for Buffalo so far this season and pitched well for the Jays on Sunday when given a shot. The Jays plan on him being in competition for Dickey's spot in 2017, so why not give him a shot now?
The second main reason is that RA Dickey could provide some bullpen help. The Jays bullpen struggles this season have been apparent as the group holds a combined WAR of .4, which places them in the middle of the league. Dickey provides something unique with his knuckle which could be be utilized out of the pen. I'll admit, this is mostly conjecture, but imagine having to face hard throwers like Stroman, Sanchez, and Hutchison, and then having Dickey as a reliever. He provides a different speed and timing which could be very beneficial for the Jays out of the bullpen.
The last reason to consider the move is Josh Thole. Thole's poor offense is well known. He's got a WAR of -.6 since coming to the Jays, despite limited field time. If it wasn't for Dickey, Thole wouldn't be on the big league roster. If Dickey was moved to the bullpen, then the Jays could afford to send Thole down in favor of a better backup such as AJ Jimenez, or Tony Sanchez.
It might be too early to make an official decision on Dickey, but it might be time that the Jay's start considering other options. If Dickey can't get it together soon then it might be time for the Jays to move on.