By: Brian Mangan
Mets fifth starter Dillon Gee struggled again in his last start, surrendering four earned runs over 5.2 innings against the Marlins at Citi Field. Although his overall performance might have been a tick better than what is visible in the linescore (one of the runs that scored against him was allowed by Rafael Montero in relief), Gee’s grasp on the fifth starter spot is precarious at best. The Mets are off to a great start, at 11-3, but the team should move aggressively to fix this situation if it does not improve.
In his sixth major league season, we have a pretty good idea of who Dillon Gee is as a pitcher. Despite short stretches of dominance, his overall season lines have been pretty consistent:
With over 640 innings in the Show, and at age 29, it is unlikely that there is much more to Gee that we haven’t seen. As for this season, it goes without saying that Gee has struggled so far, with an ERA of 7.59 after two starts. He has induced a swinging strike rate of only 9.8%. His components are somewhat friendlier, with a 5.51 FIP and a 4.50 K/BB ratio, but overall Gee has not been fooling anybody thus far. Even at his best, Gee appears to be a pitcher who might put up an ERA a shade below 4.00.
Another concern with Gee, which people might not be aware of, is his inability to go deep into games. Despite his apparent consistency (Mets announcers like to tout that Gee has gone five innings or more in every start since early 2013), Gee has been more of a “five-and-fly” kind of pitcher over his last twenty starts. Gee has thrown 6.0 innings or less in seven of his last ten starts, averaging 5.89 innings per start over that time. In this ballpark and in this suppressed offensive era, these aren’t acceptable figures.
So what should the Mets do with the fifth spot in the rotation? With the Mets sitting at 11-3, the pressure isn’t on them to upgrade. However, with the Mets projected to be in the thick of the wild card race in September, every game matters, even these games in April.
The easiest call would be to replace him with Rafael Montero, who was optioned today to Triple-A, presumably to stretch out as a starter. Although Montero has not been perfect in the early going, he provides upside that Gee does not. Montero has struck out 7 of the 22 batters he has faced so far this year, and his swinging strike rate was a robust 14.1% entering last night. If they feel more ambitious, they can try and see if Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz are ready.
Dillon Gee is a major league pitcher, and he deserves a role somewhere. But with the rest of the Mets starters clicking on all cylinders (the other four starters have a combined 2.03 ERA), the Mets deserve to get better from the fifth spot in the rotation.
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Brian Mangan is an attorney who lives in New York City. Follow his Mets-related thoughts on Twitter: @brianpmangan