Once a dominant Cy Young Award winning pitcher; not always the best pitcher in the league.
It’s not rare to see an athlete, especially a pitcher, lose his talents from one year to the next. These are three former Cy Young winners still pitching in 2014 and struggling to get outs.
In 2008 and 2009 Tim Lincecum won the National League Cy Young. He accomplished this by winning lots of games, posting a low ERA, and leading the league in strikeouts. At the time few people could have ever imagined how much of a turn his career could take in such a short period.
The first sign that Lincecum was no longer at his best came in 2012. Lincecum finished 10-15, those 15 losses leading the league. His ERA had consistently been under 3.00 and suddenly jumped up to 5.18. More wild pitches helped to limit his innings, which led to less than 200 strikeouts for the first time in a full season. Things got a little better in 2013, with Lincecum’s ERA dropping to 4.37.
This downward trend has continued for Lincecum in 2014. In his first six starts his ERA is above 5.00. If his strikeouts per nine is any hint how he will do, Lincecum will probably come close to matching his poor 2013 totals.
As far as body type goes, CC Sabathia is the complete opposite of Lincecum. Sabathia is big, albeit he dropped a few pounds for the 2014 season. This has done little to improve his game though, as the 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner is on pace to have his worst season ever.
Until the 2013 season Sabathia had been on an amazing streak of dominance no matter what team he was pitching for. An innings-eater with strikeouts to match, Sabathia appeared like a completely different pitcher in 2013. The big lefty finished with a 14-13 record and a 4.78 ERA. In addition to that, his strikeouts were down and he led the league in earned runs allowed.
The hope for Sabathia to bounce back in 2014 might be over. In his first seven starts Sabathia is 3-4 with a 5.75 ERA. Several very poor outings, including giving up six runs in six innings to the Houston Astros on opening day, have left Yankees fans confused as to what happened to their ace.
It took R.A. Dickey a long time before finding major success in the MLB. A chance to pitch for the New York Mets in 2010 began this journey. Two straight positive seasons in 2010 and 2011, Dickey got even better in 2012 when he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA, along with five complete games and three shutouts. Of course, Dickey won the National League Cy Young.
Dickey took advantage of the success and joined the Toronto Blue Jays on a big contract for the veteran. He was no longer the dominant pitcher he was in New York, going 14-13 with a 4.21 ERA. Dickey struck out over 50 fewer batters on his way to a disappointing season that actually got better than the way it started.
His second season in Toronto in 2014, Dickey has yet to get back to his old ways. Through his first seven starts he has a 2-3 record with an ERA over 5.00. Dickey seems to be walking more batters than ever before, which is any pitcher’s — especially a knuckleballer’s — nightmare.