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Debuts that made Mets fans say Gee

Where did Dillon Gee’s big league debut rank among others in Mets history?

Let’s go through a simple exercise to figure that out. Baseball-Reference.com charts pitching performance using Bill James’ metric, Game Score.

Game Score is a rating, usually on a scale of 100 (though occasionally, it can exceed 100 or fall below 0) that rewards a pitcher for getting outs (with a bonus for strikeouts) and punishes pitchers for allowing baserunners. A score of 90+ would typically be a shutout with a high number of strikeouts and a low baserunner total.

How To Compute Game Score

Metric Devised by Bill James

Gee’s line (7 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 4 K, 3 BB) rated a 70, and tied in this metric for third-best Game Score in Mets history. Let’s run through the other four in the top five.

1. Dick Rusteck, June 10, 1966 vs Reds,

Dick Rusteck is the standard-setter and rightfully so. He’s the only Mets pitcher to throw a shutout in his major league debut, his being a four-hitter against a lineup that rated in the upper half of the National League and featured a young Pete Rose and Tony Perez. Rusteck didn’t allow a Red to reach beyond first base, and for bonus points, he beat Jim Maloney, who had 12 wins in his first 16 decisions against the Mets.

Sadly the baseball story did not get any better for Rusteck, a promising 23-year-old southpaw at the time. Though his pro career lasted until 1977, injuries set in, and he never won another big league game.

2. Masato Yoshii, April 5, 1998 vs Pirates

It’s a little unfair to call this a big league debut for Yoshii, since he’d pitched 10 years in Japan prior to his first major league appearance, and his experience showed. This was one of a host of games that Masato Yoshii, a bit inconsistent in his Mets career, handled with total aplomb.

Highest Game Score

MLB Debut (Mets History)

Yoshi’s game score rated a 77 and the only reason it’s not higher than Rusteck’s is because Yoshii didn’t go the distance. Overall, he was nearly flawless, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out seven in stopping the Pirates, 7-0.

T3. Rick Anderson, June 9, 1986 vs Phillies

Used as a fill-in after spending nine seasons in the minor leagues, Rick Anderson made the best of his big league moment, allowing just one run and four hits in seven innings against the Phillies, with a pitching line almost the same as Gee’s.

Anderson would be deprived of a win due to lack of support from the Mets bats and bullpen as Jesse Orosco coughed up the lead in a rare, 3-2 loss for the eventual World Champions. Anderson would go on to win a pair of games during stints with the team later that season, including one on a torn-up Shea Stadium field the day after the Mets clinched the NL East.

Anderson is a baseball success story, though he only won four major league games. He’s currently a very highly-regarded pitching coach for the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins.

5. Jason Isringhausen, July 17, 1995 at Cubs

Jason Isringhausen and Gee share two common threads. They’re the two pitchers on this list who made that debut on the road. And they’re the only two pitchers to debut by allowing two hits or fewer in seven innings or more.

Isringhausen laid the groundwork for some high hopes for the future, ones that materialized for teams other than the Mets, by allowing only two runs and two hits in seven innings at Wrigley Field, retiring both the first and last 10 hitters to face him.

Isringhausen was 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA in that first Mets season, leading many to think that he could be a future Mets ace. The expectation isn’t quite that high for Dillon Gee, though if he pitches in his second start tonight, like he did in his first, he might raise the hopes of Mets fans just a little bit for 2011.