R.A. Dickey capped his improbable rise with the New York Mets by winning the 2012 Cy Young Award despite playing for a team that didn't win much of anything.
They traded him shortly thereafter to the Toronto Blue Jays in an effort to turn around the floundering franchise - and sure enough, it's started to pay dividends.
Dickey faces the NL East-leading Mets for the first time since that deal on Thursday night, starting opposite Bartolo Colon in the majors' first matchup between starters in their 40s in seven years.
A right-hander who posted a 5.43 ERA on three teams in his first seven seasons, Dickey (2-6, 5.29 ERA) found a home in New York in 2010. His third and final season with the Mets turned him from journeyman to ace.
He went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA while his 230 strikeouts led the NL. He became the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young and the first Met since Dwight Gooden in 1985.
There was little success on the field for the Mets, however, as they finished with a losing record in each season with Dickey. At the peak of his value, New York sent him to Toronto in a seven-player deal that returned key prospects Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud.
D'Arnaud is in his second year as the Mets' everyday catcher, and Syndergaard recently earned a spot in the rotation.
The Mets (36-31) are now atop the East by 1 1/2 games on second-place Washington, while the 40-year-old Dickey is struggling with the Blue Jays (35-32) with an ERA that's among the highest in the AL.
Dickey gave up four runs in six innings of a 5-4 win in 11 at Boston on Saturday.
He may get plenty of help as the Jays had 10 hits in an 8-0 victory over New York on Wednesday, reviving their offense after totaling five runs and 12 hits while dropping the first two of this home-and-home set. Toronto entered the series batting .304 with 18 homers and an average of 7.3 runs during an 11-game winning streak.
The Mets, meanwhile, have lost 12 of 15 away from home and are 10-20 there overall.
"We've got to start playing better on the road," manager Terry Collins said. "We've got to start winning some games."
Turning to Colon (9-4, 4.41) could help, as he's won seven of his last 10 road starts with a 3.36 ERA. The 42-year-old right-hander makes up the other half of the first matchup between 40-year-old starters since Greg Maddux faced Jamie Moyer on Aug. 15, 2008.
Like Dickey, Colon has become a fan favorite in New York, leading the team with 24 wins in two seasons while his total this year is tied for second in baseball. He leads the majors with 0.88 walks per nine innings, a number that should it hold would be the NL's best since Maddux's 0.77 in 1997.
Colon has had some famously awkward at-bats when he steps in but won't have to worry about those in Toronto, and Michael Cuddyer could again serve as the DH after getting a double Wednesday.
Colon allowed one earned run in 14 innings over his last two starts against the Blue Jays, but this is his first appearance in Toronto since Sept. 17, 2011, with the New York Yankees.
He's won three of his last four starts behind a 3.46 ERA, yielding two runs in six innings of Friday's 5-3 win over Atlanta.
Colon will have to contend with Kevin Pillar, who is 10 for 24 in his last six games after hitting a two-run blast for one of his three hits Wednesday.
A career .248 hitter, Pillar has a .339 average in 19 interleague games.