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."

MRI reveals triceps strain for reliever Carson

NEW YORK -- When Robert Carson felt a tug in his left elbow during Tuesday's game, he immediately thought the worst. Carson considered an untimely injury instantly undoing everything he accomplished in his rookie season.

"The first thing that came into my head was surgery," Carson said.

So Carson was beyond relieved when Wednesday's MRI revealed nothing more than a left triceps tendon strain. Carson is day to day and, although there is a strong chance he will not pitch again this season, the left-hander knows that things could have been far worse.

"It's a huge sigh of relief for me and for him," manager Terry Collins said. "I know he was extremely nervous and scared last night that this could have been a severe injury. It's not. It sounds great. Rest will be fine. So I know that the Carson household will be heading into a very good winter."

Along with Josh Edgin, Carson is a leading candidate to win a lefty specialist job in next year's Opening Day bullpen. After converting to relief work in Spring Training and thriving upon his promotion to Triple-A Buffalo, Carson settled into New York's bullpen for good in September. He submitted four consecutive scoreless outings prior to his injury.

Worth noting

• Mets manager Terry Collins estimated that there is a 70 percent chance the team will shut closer Frank Francisco down for the season with right elbow tendinitis.

"The signs don't point in the best direction right now," Collins said.