Houston at Toronto, 6:07 pm (CT)
Once again, the Astros made an average pitcher look like Cy Young yesterday. Today they actually get a Cy-Young award winner on the mound. R.A. Dickey, the 2012 NL Cy-Young Award Winner, is what makes baseball great. After years of failing to make it as a straight power pitcher, Dickey found salivation in the knuckleball. The bastard pitch with a mind of his own. Dickey has become the master of the knuckleball and he throws it with an aggression never seen before.
Dickey's mastery of the knuckleball lead to a magical final season with the Mets, 20 wins and a 2.73 ERA. This past offseason he was traded to Toronto. Thus far, the true north has been unkind to him. Almost every single pitching category has gone in the wrong direction this season. His strike out-to-walk rate has dropped from 4.26 in 2012 to 2.08 this season. His ground ball-to-fly ball rate has completely flipped from 2011 at 1.11, .92 in 2012, and finally .78 this season. That said, Dickey would tell that this is the nature of the knuckler. He can't control it fully, he is only along for the ride.
In his four starts in July, Dickey at least to the sixth inning in each of them. Flip flopping between giving up two runs and four plus runs in each of those starts. In his latest start, he gave up four runs over six inning against the red-hot Rays. All four runs were a result of Tampa Bay home runs. Taking a look at Dickey's history against the Astros' lineup, Jason Castro is batting .375 (3-8) with a double of the knuckleballer. Brett Wallace has three doubles in 14 career at-bats, while Jose Altuve is hitless in five at-bats against Dickey.
On the mound today for the Astros is Jordan Lyles. Lyles is hoping to turn the page on rough nine earned runs outing against Seattle. The Mariners scored 10 runs on eight hits and two walks. The right hander has a 8.03 ERA over his last five starts after seven straight starts of giving up two earned runs or least. One bright spot, Lyles ERA on the road (3.50) is two runs lower then at home (5.73). This will the be first time the major of the Jay's line will have faced Lyles, only Josh Thole has two previous career at-bats against tonight's starter. Thole is hitless with one strikeout.