Dillon Gee has made three starts since returning from the disabled list, and after last night’s beating at the hands of the Brewers, two of them have been bad. In his past two starts, Gee has allowed ten earned runs over ten innings, struggling to keep the ball in the ballpark, having allowed three home runs.
“There’s no excuses,” Gee said. “There’s no excuse for me. It’s not that perplexing either. The ball’s just not coming out right the last couple of starts. I’ve been in this situation before. I’ve had bad starts before. I’m probably going to have some more sometime else in my career. The key is just try to bounce back as fast as you can.”
– Courtesy of ESPN New York
What caught my eye reading Gee’s comments after last night’s game was the thought that the “ball’s just not coming out right the last couple of starts.”
Gee missed nearly two months of baseball due to a strained right lat muscle. For those unfamiliar, the lat muscle is found in your back, and it extends up towards your arm. A strained lat on your pitching side, therefore, can affect your mechanics and throwing motion. Studies have shown that the lat muscle is most used just prior to the release of the baseball.
LD muscle stores energy during cocking phase to prepare for the large acceleration required before ball release.
– Hwai-Ting Lin (1,2), Fong-Chin Su (2), Terry K.K. Koo (1), Atsushi Yokota (1), Jun Hashimoto (3), Nozomu Inoue (1), Mari Nakamura (3), Katsuya Nobuhara (3), Edmund Y.S. Chao (1)
While Gee checked out healthy upon his return, it seems that he may be overcompensating for his injury. As he suggested, the ball is definitely coming out different on release. We can see below Gee’s vertical release point before and after the injury.
Before his injury, Gee was releasing most of his pitches much lower than he has since returning. As a consequence, his four-seam fastball, the pitch he uses most often, has lost some movement. Typically, his four-seam moves towards right-handed hitters with a horizontal movement of about 4.5 inches. In July, it is only moving 2.9 inches, which is the lowest monthly total of his career. His vertical movement has also been affected by the higher release point. He seems to be aiming the pitch lower in the zone to compensate for less movement.
And as a result of his four-seam falling flat, opposing hitters are teeing off against it.
Statistics courtesy of Brooks Baseball.
The good news is that Gee recognizes the problem in his release point, which, hopefully, means he can remedy it soon. What the Mets need to be cautious of, is that he isn’t still feeling sore in his right lat, which is suggestive in Gee’s higher release point since returning to the rotation.