Closing Time: R.A. Dickey would like your attention

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/6708/" data-ylk="slk:R.A. Dickey">R.A. Dickey</a> is an interesting pickup again (AP)
R.A. Dickey is an interesting pickup again (AP)

We need more knuckleballers in our lives. Knuckleballers are fun. Knuckleballers pitch forever. Knuckleballers are easy to root for.

And sometimes, fun to own. Especially in the offensive boom of 2017.

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I don’t blame anyone who wrote off R.A. Dickey a while ago. He’s 42, for crying out loud, and he had a 4.46 ERA last year. American League hitters were sad to see him go; Dickey signed on with the Braves in the winter.

But the knuckler is a feel pitch, and sometimes these guys get on a roll. We saw it with Tim Wakefield so many different times. Dickey has allowed zero or one runs in six of his last seven starts, and although he was cooked in the other turn during that stretch, it still hashes out to a 2.60 ERA. He’s walked just eight, struck out 41 over his last 45 innings.

Coincidence or not, Dickey’s surge has coincided with Tyler Flowers settling in as his regular catcher. Dickey has a 2.60 ERA with Flowers, and a 5.10 ERA with Kurt Suzuki. Heading forward, it should be Nothing But Flowers. (You got it, you got it.)

The immediate schedule tempers some of the Dickey enthusiasm — he draws the Cubs on Wednesday, and the Diamondbacks on Monday (against Zack Greinke, no less). But in today’s pitching context, I’m not going to be too choosy. Dickey’s resume and form buys him Circle of Trust privileges, and I’m surprised he’s owned in just 20 percent of Yahoo leagues. Start clicking, clickers.

Tommy Pham is about to cross the 50-percent ownership level in the Yahoo game, so let’s give him his graduation papers. The bandwagon took too long to assemble, but the signal finally got out. Pham reached base four times, including a homer, in Monday’s win over the Mets.

Pham is playing out of his mind right now, and obviously it’s above his true talent level. But at some point, you have to jump on your boogie board and ride the wave. He’s the third-best hitter in Yahoo over the last month — not the third best Cardinal, the third best overall hitter — checking in with a .340-21-6-20-6 line.

Pham’s making a lot of his own luck with a 24.4 percent line-drive rate (four percent over league average, per Fangraphs). He’s also been a little more aggressive pulling the ball. We especially appreciate the six steals, because not many teams want to run in today’s Home Run Derby game. And Pham seems assured of playing time for the balance of the year, even when the bigger names in St. Louis get healthy.

Let go of the Piscotty fear. Stop with the Grichuk gridlock. Pham has earned his stripes in St. Louis.

• As for the Cardinals bullpen, they’ve added Brett Cecil into the closing mix. Cecil blew a save chance on Sunday, then finished up Monday, though Kevin Siegrist opened the inning.

Trevor Rosenthal wasn’t an option Monday, after three straight days of work. Seung-Hwan Oh hasn’t been reliable of late. Botton line, this horse race is long from decided.

Cecil has to deal with the bias against left-handed closers, but the Cardinals aren’t afraid to be unconventional (queue up your favorite Mike Matheny rant). The lefty has a wonky set of reverse splits this year, but for his career he follows the conventional path (righties gain 123 OPS points).

Cecil’s ratios are okay for a reliever, not juicy — 3.55 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, about a strikeout per inning. But possession of the baton is a thing in our fantasy racket. He’s owned in just eight percent of Yahoo leagues. Even if Rosenthal gets the next chance, as has been speculated, Cecil has plausible upside in some formats.

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