The Toronto Blue Jays envisioned R.A. Dickey as a front-line starter when they acquired him in the offseason.
So far, the veteran knuckleballer hasn’t delivered like an ace.
Dickey will try to avoid a career high-tying fourth consecutive losing start Friday night when Toronto goes for another victory over the major league-worst Houston Astros.
After going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and winning the 2012 NL Cy Young with the New York Mets, Dickey (8-11, 4.75 ERA) headlined a seven-player deal with Toronto in December.
The right-hander’s return to the AL has been a struggle, as he’s among the majors’ worst with 23 homers allowed. Dickey yielded 24 last season in a career-high 233 2-3 innings.
“That seems to have been my bane this year,” he said after getting tagged for three homers and four runs in six innings of Sunday’s 4-3 home loss to Tampa Bay. “It’s not all the time that you make a mistake with one and it gets hit out of the park. It’s just this year it’s been the case.”
Dickey, 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against Houston a year ago, lost a career-worst four consecutive starts from May 13-28, 2004, while with Texas.
He’ll get the ball after teammate Mark Buehrle threw a two-hitter in Thursday’s 4-0 series-opening victory. The Blue Jays (46-55) ended a six-game skid at home and a season-worst seven-game slide that started before the All-Star break.
“It’s been a while (since we won),” said manager John Gibbons, whose team hasn’t recorded back-to-back victories since a franchise record-tying 11-game run June 11-23.
Toronto last won two straight against visiting teams during a 7-0 stretch June 17-July 1.
The Astros (34-67), losers of 20 of 25, will try to rebound with Jordan Lyles (4-4, 4.78) on the hill.
Houston, though, has lost in each of the right-hander’s last five starts, with Lyles going 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA in that span. He was awful Sunday, giving up a career-high nine earned runs in four-plus innings of a 12-5 loss to Seattle.
“From the get-go, I was missing around the zone,” Lyles said. “I wasn’t quite hitting targets. I was just a little bit off. It really came down to fastball command.”
Lyles has never faced Toronto.
With Carlos Pena getting designated for assignment Tuesday, no Astro has homered off Dickey. First baseman Brett Wallace is 4 for 14 with three doubles against him, with all the hits coming two years ago.