NEW YORK -- One thing is certain heading into R.A. Dickey's first attempt at 20 wins: the gravity of that potential achievement is not lost on its protagonist.
"Obviously, there's something that looks pretty about that number," Dickey said. "I'm not going to pretend that it's not nice. But my whole mentality is geared around, 'How can I be consistent?' So I'm going to go out there and try to put up a quality start, just like I always do, and hopefully it will equal a win."
The significance of a 20-win season is also not lost on the Mets, who recently altered their pitching schedule to accommodate Dickey. Rather than start Friday's series opener in Atlanta, where the knuckleballer has struggled all year, Dickey will make his penultimate outing of the season at home against the Pirates. In addition to pitting Dickey against a weaker offensive team, the change will allow the knuckleballer potentially to win his 20th game at Citi Field.
"I really hope for that," he said. "That's one of the reasons I moved my start in the first place, was to try to share a milestone such as that with the fans here. So it would mean quite something. It may mean the most of things for me in this moment."
Dickey would not be the first big league starter to win 20 games in 2012 -- that honor belongs to Washington's Gio Gonzalez, who reached the milestone on Saturday. But he can become the first Mets pitcher to win 20 since Frank Viola in 1990, and just the sixth in franchise history.
Winning 20 would also move Dickey ever closer to a potential National League Cy Young Award and a rare pitching triple crown. The knuckleballer currently ranks first in the NL with a 2.66 ERA, second with 209 strikeouts and second with 19 wins. A strong start Thursday would push him to the top of the leaderboard in all three categories.
"I think there's obviously some energy that will be built into it, just because of the nature of things," Dickey said. "But I don't feel like it's any additional pressure or anything. I just go out there and compete hard."