R.A. Dickey has a chance to become the first New York Met to surpass 20 wins in 27 years, and his performances against the Miami Marlins have helped put him in that position.
The knuckleballer will also try to bolster his NL Cy Young Award hopes by continuing his mastery of the Marlins, who are expected to give Adam Greenberg a long-awaited major league at-bat Tuesday night.Until this year, the 37-year-old Dickey had never won more than 11 games and was 41-50 over nine seasons. He even began 2010 with New York's minor league affiliate in Buffalo.If he wins Tuesday, Dickey (20-6, 2.69 ERA) will become the first Met with 21 or more victories in a season since Dwight Gooden went 24-4 in 1985 en route to claiming the franchise's last Cy Young.Tom Seaver won at least 21 games for New York in 1969, 1972 and 1975, and Jerry Koosman hit that mark in 1976."My sole concern again is just to try to put up a good outing," Dickey told the team's official website. "And at the end, you hope that your statistics speak loudly enough that you're in the (Cy Young) race."Dickey is also seeking to become the first knuckleballer with at least 21 wins since Atlanta's Phil Niekro and Houston's Joe Niekro both did so in 1979, and the first pitcher for a sub-.500 team since Roger Clemens went 21-7 for Toronto in 1997.A start against the Marlins (68-92) would appear to give Dickey a prime opportunity to accomplish all those goals. He's 8-0 with a 0.92 ERA over his last eight matchups and has five wins versus Miami this season.Gooden is the only Met to win nine consecutive starts against one team, the Chicago Cubs from Sept. 8, 1988-May 21, 1991.During his final chance to make his case for the Cy Young, Dickey is not expected to give the Marlins an easy time, even to Greenberg. The 31-year-old is slated to sign a one-day contract so he can finally get an official at-bat in the majors.Greenberg was hit in the head by the Marlins' Valerio De Los Santos during his only plate appearance for the Cubs on July 9, 2005. He was subsequently plagued by vertigo and never made it past Double-A after signing minor league contracts with the two Los Angeles teams and Kansas City."Life's going to throw you curveballs -- or fastballs in the back of your head," Greenberg said. "I got hit by one of them. And it knocked me down and I could have stayed there. I had a choice ... and I chose to get up and get back in the box."Dickey, however, is not getting caught up in the feel-good story."He's a big leaguer," Dickey said. "I'm going to treat him like a big leaguer."Miami manager Ozzie Guillen initially considered having Greenberg bat leadoff but is expected to give him a pinch-hit appearance in "the middle of the game." Guillen's club ended a seven-game skid to the Mets with a 3-2 victory Monday.Greenberg might even get the chance to help Jacob Turner (1-4, 3.86) earn his third major league win. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.09 ERA since beating NL Central champion Cincinnati on Sept. 14, and one of those losses came in his only appearance against the Mets (73-87).Turner gave up six runs -- three earned -- and eight hits over five innings during that 7-3 defeat Sept. 21.
Best that our research can tell, as long as he doesn't have an ERA-killing start in his last start on Tuesday, R.A. Dickey can join Wilbur Wood (1971 White Sox) as the only pitchers who throw the knuckleball as a primary pitch to finish a season with 20 wins, 200 strikeouts, and an ERA below 3.00.
Dazzy Vance and Luis Tiant, also threw the knuckleball and had seasons of this nature, but it was not their primary pitch.
Wilbur Wood CHW, 1971: 22-13, 1.91, 210 K
R.A. Dickey NYM, 2012: 20-6, 2.69, 222 K
Entering Tuesday, the Mets' David Wright is hitting .328 with three home runs and 10 RBIs against the Marlins this season.
R.A. Dickey has dominated the Marlins throughout his career, going 10-2 with a 2.75 ERA in 14 games (12 career starts) against them. This includes his ownership of them this season, where he is 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA in five starts against them.