Dickey sees Tigers as team to beat, waits on word of Cy Young

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 11:51pm

Although he clearly would prefer to be playing in the World Series himself, Nashville’s R.A. Dickey has a pick to win the Fall Classic.

“I think it’s going to be Detroit — in five games,” Dickey told The City Paper when reached Tuesday morning. “Except for their defense, I think they have just about everything else going for them. I think they have more offense, and they have their pitching lined up a little better since San Francisco didn’t close out their series with the Cardinals until Monday night.

“Justin Verlander will be ready for the opener [Wednesday], and he has been dominant all season.”

Dickey and his team, the New York Mets, did not reach the postseason. The former Montgomery Bell Academy and University of Tennessee star did end the regular season as a leading candidate for the National League Cy Young award.

He had a dream day in the final home game of the season late last month when he collected his 20th victory, struck out 13 and walked just two in a 6-5 victory over Pittsburgh. He became the first Mets pitcher in 22 years and only the sixth in history to win at least 20 games. The following day, his picture was plastered over all of New York’s daily newspapers and tabloids, noting the achievement.

“It was a dream ending, I couldn’t have asked for more,’’ Dickey, 37, said. “They shuffled the rotation a little so I could pitch that last home game.”

Dickey came out to a standing ovation from the 31,000 in Citi Field when he was relieved in the eighth inning and again during post-game interviews.

“I’ve been on the other end of that, pitching in a final game with not-so-good results,” Dickey said. “So that was especially nice.”

He got one last start in Miami in the final series, but did factor in the decision. He finished the year 20-6.

His 2012 statistics border on the incredible for an erstwhile “journeyman” who adopted the knuckleball a few years back, a switch that essentially saved his career.

Among his numbers, Dickey:

• Led the league in strikeouts with 230.

• Led the league in complete games (five) and shutouts (three).

• Placed second in the league in wins behind Washington’s Gio Gonzalez (21).

• Finished with a 2.73 ERA, just behind Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers (2.53).

• Led the league in innings pitched with 234.

• Had a 27.7 percent of his team’s wins, best in club history, just ahead of Tom Seaver’s 26.8 percent in 1975.

“There were times he picked us up and carried us on his back,” teammate David Wright, who hit a key three-run homer in the milestone win, told the New York Post after the final game. “To win 20 games, especially with the way we’ve played offensively the second half, that says a lot.”

The Mets (74-88) finished fifth in the National League East, 24 games out.

The Cy Young winner will be announced Nov. 14, and Dickey may well become the first Nashville player in history to collect the award. Vanderbilt graduate and Murfreesboro native Davd Price, of the Tmpa Bay Rays, is a top candidate for the A.L. Cy Young.

“When you are a young boy, collecting baseball cards, you read on the back, you see the amazing things guys have done, and it would be great to be a part of that,” Dickey said. “But it’s going to be what it’s going to be. Whatever happens, happens. It’s not going to re-define me or who I am.”

“He gets my vote,” Mets teammate Mike Baxter, a former Vanderbilt star who was in Nashville last week, said. “What he’s done this year is simply amazing.”