What more does Dillon Gee need to do to earn a place in the Mets starting rotation?
New York Mets
Gee has made seven major league starts. He’s had some good ones and some OK ones, but he’s yet to have one that would make you shudder, a la some of the early outings this season from Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese.
In those seven starts, Gee has a 2.22 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. He’s allowed three home runs in 44 2/3 innings. The one thing that would classify as shaky is his strikeout-to-walk rate -- 26 to 18. But in two starts this season, he’s walked only three in 11 2/3 innings.
In their 50-season history, the Mets have trusted 22 pitchers to begin their big league careers by starting in seven games without a relief appearance. That list includes Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Jason Isringhausen, Bobby Jones and Pelfrey.
You know who has the best ERA and the best WHIP through seven starts among those 22 pitchers?
A closer look at some of the metrics indicates that Gee won’t be able to keep up this level of performance. Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) is a metric that provides an ERA equivalent for a pitcher based on his strikeouts, walks and the rate of fly balls that become home runs.
In his seven starts, Gee’s xFIP is 3.99. His Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) is .234, abnormal for a pitcher, but partly explainable by Gee’s ability to avoid batters hitting line drives against him. (His rate is 10 to 12 percent, depending on which source you use, which would rank very high if maintained for a full season.) That figures to increase as big league hitters figure him out.
But so far, they’ve only done so a little bit. In his last two starts, Gee has shown an effective changeup, one he has used to get 15 outs, including seven strikeouts. He has allowed three hits with the pitch. He’s gotten a strike with the pitch two-thirds of the time.
We should say this too: There’s nothing wrong with a 3.99 ERA and a more-normal BABIP.
In an ideal world, Gee develops into a Jones-type pitcher: Not overpowering. Smart. Reliable to be decent. Occasionally pretty darn good. But the Mets wouldn’t plug Gee into the starting rotation to start the season, and they don’t seem to have a way to make him fit now. It might be time to do something to change that.