Keys to R.A. Dickey Succeeding Against Tough AL East Lineups

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Keys to R.A. Dickey Succeeding Against Tough AL East Lineups
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

R.A. Dickey has become one of the most interesting stories in baseball over the past few seasons, but now he's about to go from a feel-good story to one of the most scrutinized pitchers in baseball this season.

Dickey won the 2012 National League Cy Young Award in November after a masterful performance in which he dominated opposing hitters all season long despite playing on a Mets team that finished 24 games back in the National League East last season. His knuckleball was downright unhittable at times—an observation verified by two near-no-hitters in the month of June of last season.

Dickey pitched 233.0 innings, going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.05 WHIP while striking out a National League-leading 230 batters (one ahead of 2011 Cy Young Award winner, Clayton Kershaw). Gaudy numbers for any pitcher, but especially impressive for Dickey, who just a few years prior was almost out of baseball entirely.

The storybook season wouldn't have a happy ending, however. Dickey, now 38, sought a contract extension from the Mets after the season, but the two parties couldn't agree on a number. Reports claimed Dickey was looking for $26-28 million on a two-year extension, but the Mets refused to exceed $20 million.

The negotiations continued, but it soon became clear an agreement wouldn't be reached. That's when things started to get ugly.

Once the realization set in that the damage done to the relationship was irreparable, the Mets sought to trade Dickey, and the Blue Jays—already hot off a blockbuster trade with the Marlins—came calling.

In the end, the Blue Jays got their man, netting Dickey and a pair of catchers (Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas) familiar with the reigning Cy Young winner, but it cost them a pretty penny. The Jays gave up the consensus best catching prospect in the game in Travis D'Arnaud, as well as highly-touted pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard.

Given how his tenure with the Mets came to such a controversial conclusion, as well as the price the Blue Jays paid to acquire his services, one Robert Allen Dickey will have a lot of pressure on him in 2013.

Dickey will have to adjust to a new team in a new division in a new league. A lot of people believe the American League East is the toughest division in baseball for pitchers, and rightfully so. The Rogers Centre is also a more hitter-friendly park than the pitching-oriented confines of Citi Field.

Dickey has established a track record of success, but he will have to make some adjustments to continue his reign among the best pitchers in baseball. This article breaks down R.A. Dickey's keys to succeeding against the American League East in 2013 and living up to his newly-acquired reputation as an elite pitcher.

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