It’s taken a while for the New York Mets to reach a decision, but all signs point to Dillon Gee being the team’s Opening Day starter. Gee wasn’t the first choice for the job, but with Matt Harvey on the shelf after Tommy John surgery and Jon Niese‘s status for the season up in the air, Gee is the right choice to be named the Mets’ Opening Day starter.
Being the Opening Day starter is more ceremonial than anything else. As long as a pitcher stays healthy, he’ll make at least 30 starts over the course of the season regardless if he makes his season debut the first game of the season or the fifth game of the season. Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon may be more talented pitchers than Gee, and they may have better seasons in 2014 than Gee, but he deserves the ceremonial privilege of being the Opening Day starter.
With Niese no longer being an option for opening day, Gee is the longest tenured Mets starter, being with the team since 2010. He was also the team’s best starter outside of Harvey for the final four months of the 2013 season. After recovering from a blood clot that kept him out the second half of the 2012 season and bouncing back from a rough start to the 2013 season, Gee deserves the privilege of starting on Opening Day in 2014.
Wheeler will have plenty more opportunities in the future to be an Opening Day starter, and doesn’t necessarily need that honor or pressure in what will be his first full season in the big leagues. The Mets also don’t need to give the Opening Day honor to a free agent like Colon.
When it comes to a ceremonial honor like starting on Opening Day, the Mets should anoint a homegrown player who has spent several years with the team, and Gee is the right choice.