While the New York Mets‘ trio of young power arms, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, have commanded much of the publicity surrounding the team, it’s perhaps the most unassuming member of New York’s rotation that could be its best pitcher this season.
From the end of May on last season, Dillon Gee was not only one of the best pitchers on the Mets staff, but one of the best pitchers in baseball as well. Coming into this season, many are penciling in Gee as the team’s de facto fourth starter, behind Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and Bartolo Colon, but if Gee can replicate his performance from last year, he could outperform all of them.
Entering last season, Gee was coming off a scary blood clot issue in his arm that ended his 2012 season at the All-Star break. Gee was fortunate to be alive, let alone be back on a major league mound, but his performance suffered greatly as he worked his way back into shape. 10 starts into the season, Gee’s ERA stood at an unsightly 6.34 and there was serious consideration by the Mets’ braintrust to remove him from the rotation.
With his spot pretty much hanging in the balance, Gee went out and pitched one of the best games of his young career at Yankee Stadium, allowing one run on four hits in 7.1 innings and striking out 12. From that game on, Gee took off.
After the New York Yankees game on May 30, Gee pitched to a sparkling 2.79 ERA from June to the end of the season, a number that would’ve been even lower if he hadn’t allowed a combined eight runs in 12 innings in his last two starts when the Mets were playing out the stretch. While Gee doesn’t possess the same kind of arsenal as some of his fellow rotation mates, he gets by spotting his fastball and using a solid changeup/curveball combination to keep hitters off guard.
Gee’s control has greatly improved over his first few years in the bigs, as his BB/9 has come down every year. Although he’ll never be labeled a strikeout artist, Gee has found a way to succeed by generating weak contact and not allowing batters to put the sweet spot of the bat on the ball.
Gee has brought some much-needed consistency to the Mets rotation, something they have yet to get out of Niese, whose career has been up and down thus far, and the younger Wheeler. While Colon is the staff veteran and was brought in to serve as a placeholder for Harvey, who will miss most if not all of 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Gee relishes his role as the unassuming stalwart.
It remains to be seen if Gee can pick up where he left off last season, but over a full year removed from the blood clot issue, he’s entered Spring Training with a clear head and a stronger arm. With the plethora of questions surrounding the Mets this spring, the rotation appears to be the one sure thing that the team can fall back on.
With Niese and Colon already slowed by minor injuries, Wheeler never having pitched a full season in the bigs, and the fifth starter spot still up for grabs, it’ll be imperative for Gee to step up and give New York the same quality innings in 2014 that he did from June-September of 2013. Even though some might scoff at that possibility, Gee could certainly prove the doubters wrong with a repeat performance.