With R.A. Dickey scheduled to start Sunday night on 5 days’ rest, let’s look at the “days of rest” splits of the most prominent recent knuckleballers (in starts only). I have included all splits that cover at least 10 starts, but my comparative statements are based only on those lines with at least 30 starts.

Even if you care nothing for this topic, I urge you to savor the line of Wilbur Wood on 2 days’ rest.

Tim Wakefield: Better with 4 days’ rest than with 5.

I Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
3 Days,GS 19 503 450 71 115 19 3 22 9 7 40 76 1.90 .256 .321 .458 .778
4 Days,GS 225 6241 5557 793 1383 298 26 177 202 55 518 963 1.86 .249 .320 .407 .728
5 Days,GS 140 3787 3368 496 889 208 10 116 123 41 340 554 1.63 .264 .337 .435 .772
6+ Days,GS 62 1655 1461 214 375 70 5 47 59 17 154 241 1.56 .257 .334 .408 .742
All tables generated via Baseball-Reference.com on 6/22/2012.

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Tom Candiotti: Slightly better with 5 days’ rest than with 4 (the difference is all in SLG).

I Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
3 Days,GS 17 468 414 55 97 22 4 8 9 2 41 63 1.54 .234 .306 .365 .671
4 Days,GS 216 5986 5414 676 1381 226 29 140 161 61 444 907 2.04 .255 .314 .385 .699
5 Days,GS 116 3194 2842 351 714 117 11 60 78 25 246 488 1.98 .251 .313 .363 .677
6+ Days,GS 55 1457 1307 165 358 66 6 33 37 10 118 196 1.66 .274 .338 .409 .747

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Charlie Hough: Best with 3 days’ rest; better with 4 than with 5.

I Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
3 Days,GS 60 1838 1616 195 366 73 8 40 48 20 174 289 1.66 .226 .309 .356 .665
4 Days,GS 236 6827 5996 771 1415 263 31 170 156 78 664 971 1.46 .236 .316 .375 .691
5 Days,GS 96 2747 2426 350 604 92 20 77 70 26 258 373 1.45 .249 .325 .399 .724
6+ Days,GS 44 1214 1063 129 247 31 8 30 16 13 121 153 1.26 .232 .317 .361 .678

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Phil Niekro: An odd pattern — better with 3 or 5 days’ rest than with 4; worst with 6+.

I Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
3 Days,GS 255 7995 7225 788 1752 259 46 174 165 81 599 1216 2.03 .242 .303 .363 .666
4 Days,GS 270 8006 7204 838 1801 246 42 174 149 92 639 1194 1.87 .250 .314 .368 .682
5 Days,GS 93 2767 2499 270 600 86 13 57 48 24 226 391 1.73 .240 .304 .353 .657
6+ Days,GS 58 1599 1427 193 386 78 13 37 37 10 153 205 1.34 .270 .342 .421 .763

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Joe Niekro: Better with 4 days’ rest than with 5; not good with either 3 or 6.

I Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
3 Days,GS 126 3215 2875 414 791 113 16 73 80 34 277 341 1.23 .275 .338 .402 .740
4 Days,GS 233 6599 5953 629 1442 207 34 98 199 61 534 787 1.47 .242 .306 .338 .644
5 Days,GS 72 2012 1820 206 459 62 13 42 60 10 152 228 1.50 .252 .310 .370 .680
6+ Days,GS 52 1308 1157 192 341 59 10 32 43 6 121 141 1.17 .295 .362 .446 .808

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Wilbur Wood: Hee-hee-hee! Oh, sorry … Best with 2 days’ rest; better with 3 than with 4, but long rest also suited him.

I Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
2 Days,GS 71 2262 2088 199 490 67 16 36 51 22 125 333 2.66 .235 .281 .334 .615
3 Days,GS 153 4536 4170 496 1132 173 20 90 82 48 270 535 1.98 .271 .317 .387 .704
4 Days,GS 37 1011 903 135 253 39 6 28 26 16 77 106 1.38 .280 .341 .430 .770
5 Days,GS 10 285 255 28 55 11 2 6 5 3 22 38 1.73 .216 .276 .345 .621
6+ Days,GS 22 632 561 52 132 16 2 10 10 11 53 69 1.30 .235 .307 .324 .631

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R.A. Dickey (2010-12 only): No significant difference, but better SO/BB with 4 days’ rest.

RestGPAABRH2B3BHRBBSOSO/BBBAOBPSLGOPS
4 Days,GS38101091310222140621611742.85.242.296.368.664
5 Days,GS226165734814223313331133.42.248.291.366.657

 

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I don’t think there’s enough here to draw strong conclusions, and of course Dickey’s own tendencies would have the most predictive value for him. But I think there is some evidence that a knuckleballer is better off pitching with the least rest that he can regularly accommodate.

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