Mets starter Dillon Gee took a significant step forward last season, improving in a few key areas. Gee lowered his ERA from 4.43 in 2011 to 4.10 last season. He took some big steps forward and has me optimistic for this upcoming season.
The biggest sign of Gee’s improvement last season came from his so-called “peripherals”– walks and strikeouts. He saw a substantial drop in walks, going from 4.0 BB/9 to 2.4, and an increase in strikeouts, going from 6.4 K/9 to 8.0. That is likely the result of Gee mixing his pitches more effectively. He brought the use of his slider up from just 2 percent in 2011 to 13 percent last season while mixing in his curve ball a bit more as well. Gee also became less predictable with two strikes, using his changeup in that situation much less than he did in 2011. For that, there’s reason for optimism.
The only problem I can foresee with Gee this season is arm strength. He was healthy through 17 starts, until doctors found a blood clot in his throwing shoulder, which kept him on the sidelines for the remaining three months of the season. He was able to toss 109.2 innings. An increase to a full-season workload may be tough for Gee, but luckily the issue isn’t something that is going to linger. In other words, it isn’t going to flare up again like Shaun Marcum‘s elbow issue could. I’m not going to predict injuries because that’s not what this projection series is about, but durability issues are something the Mets will have to keep an eye out for.
Looking back at 2012, Gee’s statistics, much like Jonathon Niese‘s, are inflated by two awful starts. He gave up seven runs to the Giants in April and seven to the Brewers in early May. Take those two starts out and Gee’s ERA is 3.31. However I think it will be difficult for Gee to rid himself of games like those, considering what type of pitcher he is. He doesn’t have the stuff of a Matt Harvey or R.A. Dickey, so he is just going to get lit up sometimes.
For that same reason, I have to be very conservative when projecting Gee. With his stuff (which isn’t bad, but it’s certainly not at the level of the rest of the staff) he can only progress so far. He won’t be at the level of a Jon Niese, but he will provide the Mets with above-average production from the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation. He won’t be flashy because he never has been, but many teams would kill to have a fifth starter as consistent and productive as Dillon Gee was last year, and will be this season.