Dickey takes 2013 campaign as learning experience

Dickey takes 2013 campaign as learning experience

TORONTO -- It may not have been the season he was hoping for, but R.A. Dickey is pleased with his progress over the last couple of months.

Dickey's post-Cy Young Award-winning season started off on shaky ground, with the knuckleballer having an ERA over 5.00 for most of the first half as he struggled with the adjustment to the American League, the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre and a sore neck/back muscle that hindered the velocity and effectiveness of his signature pitch.

Since June 21, Dickey posted a respectable 3.46 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and an 8-5 record. He was 6-2 with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP, with 69 strikeouts in 84 innings since July 31.

"I'm certainly glad that I was able to string a good couple of months together. I feel like I gave glimpses of what I can be for this team over that span," Dickey said, who finished the season 14-13. "So there's a lot of good things. We're trying to be honest with ourselves about what we need to do to be better, but we can't just throw it all away. You can't throw the baby out with the bath water. You got to realize what you've done well, too."

It was a season of highs and lows for the 38-year-old, as he allowed five or more earned runs in nine of his 34 starts and had 13 outings in which he allowed two or fewer earned runs.

"It was a year where I felt like I didn't have my best knuckleball at times, but was able to fight through a lot of that and survive. I didn't necessarily flourish in 2011 across the board, but I felt like I did a lot of good things, much like this season," Dickey said. "I left 2011 knowing I could be better at a lot of different things, and this year it's the same.

"I feel like it's a very similar year. I struck out more guys this year, I threw a lot more innings than I did. The next year after that, I won the Cy Young. So there's some hope in what has happened this year from a personal standpoint."

With the Mets in 2011, Dickey went just 8-13, but he posted an ERA nearly a full earned run below this year with a 3.28 mark while striking out significantly fewer batters -- just 134 over 208 innings, compared to 177 over 224 innings this season.

While 2013 pales in comparison to his breakout campaign in 2012, Dickey has no regrets coming to Toronto.

"I never thought, 'What have I done?'" Dickey said. "I knew that this was going to be a ginormous challenge. That's one of the reasons I signed here. I like that. I saw what my knuckleball could do in the NL East for three years, and I felt like I had it at a point where it's exciting to challenge the best hitters day in and day out. I feel like the AL East is representative of that."

"I do feel like I gathered a lot of information I can apply to next season that should be helpful. Now it all comes down to execution, of course. But to have information is half the battle."

Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.