When I was younger and first really started following the Mets, my favorite player wasn’t Mike Piazza, or Edgardo Alfonzo or John Franco: it was Rick Reed. Why, I can’t really say, but I think even at a young age I was attracted to pitchers who controlled the strike zone and rarely issued free passes (the most walks Reed surrendered during a season as a Met was 47, and his K/BB was 3.73). Dillon Gee reminds me of Rick Reed.
Gee, who will be 25 in late April, was drafted by the Mets in the 21st round in 2007. After four minor league seasons, two of which were cut short due to a torn labrum (’08 and ’09), Gee made his big league debut on September 7, 2010 against the Nationals. In that game, the right hander pitched seven innings, allowing one run on just two hits while striking out four. He was very efficient, throwing just 86 pitches (53 for strikes, a 61.3% clip) and actually had a no hitter going through five innings until Met killer (and now current Met) Willie Harris broke it up with a homer to start the sixth.
Although Gee made only five starts last year, he posted some impressive numbers. Dillon compiled a 2.18 ERA in 33 innings while allowing 25 hits. Each start lasted at least six innings (three times he went seven) and pitched pretty well against both the Braves (7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER in a losing effort) and Phillies (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER and 5 K for the win on the road). Furthermore, 47% of his outs were recorded on the ground, and he did well against lefties (eight hits in 47 plate appearances) and righties (17 hits in 80 plate appearances). There were of course, some negatives. His FIP was 4.20 and xFIP was 5.19, suggesting his low ERA was somewhat lucky. Gee also walked 15 batters while striking out 17, a K/BB of just 1.13. But wait, doesn’t he remind me of Rick Reed, who barely walked anybody? Keep in mind that the sample size is small, so everything must be taken with a grain of salt. Let’s look at the minor league numbers.
A control pitcher will be a control pitcher no matter what level he pitches at. Although he struggled with his control at the majors, it was one of Gee’s strong points in the minors. Over 426 career minor league innings, Gee has averaged just 1.9 BB/9, which led to an outstanding 4.19 K/BB. He actually walked the most batters of his minor league career in 2010, issuing 43 free passes while playing for Buffalo. Last season was an interesting one for Gee in other regards. He compiled a 13-8 record with a 4.95 ERA, but his FIP was 4.01, significantly lower, suggesting that he might’ve been unlucky. Furthermore, he posted his highest WHIP (1.333-his minor league average is 1.181) while allowing a startlingly high 9.7 hits per nine innings. However, Gee also struck out a career high 9.2 batters per nine innings, leading to a 4.02 K/BB.
Ultimately, Gee probably won’t strike out 9.2 batters per nine, or 8.0 batters per nine-his minor league average. That being said, Gee has a lot going for him, including a solid changeup-a pitch that will help him succeed against lefties. If he can maintain his control and force hitters to put the ball in play at spacious Citi Field, he should be able to build a career as a solid middle to back of the rotation starter. This year, Gee will battle Chris Capuano for the final rotation spot, assuming Chris Young earns a spot (he probably will). Even if Gee begins the year at Buffalo, it is comforting to know the Mets have a solid starter waiting in the wings who is able to throw strikes and give the team quality innings.
Tags: Atlanta Braves Buffalo Chris Capuano Chris Young Citi Field Control Pitcher Dillon Gee Disabld List Edgardo Alfonzo ERA FIP Free Pass Injury John Franco Matt Kaufman Mets Mike Piazza New York Mets Philadelphia Phillies Rick Reed Strikeout Torn Labrum Triple A Walks Washington Nationals Willie Harris XFIP