The 2011 New York Mets' rotation has been in a state of flux with injuries to Johan Santana and Chris Young, and the inconsistent performances of Mike Pefrey, Chris Capuano and RA Dickey.However, Dillon Gee has kept the rotation afloat in times of despair.
The 25 year-old Gee, a 21st round draft pick, improved his record to 5-0 after giving the Mets another quality start against the Pittsburgh Pirates last night. He allowed three runs on five hits, one home run and no walks while striking out eight in seven innings of work. He lowered his ERA to 3.83 for the season, and he has exceeded expectations.
I didn't think too much of Gee's quick cup of coffee with the club late last season. His ERA in five starts was 2.18, but he benefited from a .225 BABIP and 80.7 percent strand rate. His peripherals did not indicate much future success—his strike out rate came in at 4.64 K/9 and he walked 4.06 batters per nine innings. His xFIP of 5.00 did not indicate future success in the majors.
Despite his lack of overwhelming stuff—his fastball averages 89.4 mph—Gee relies on the use of his change-up to keep hitters off balance. He has thrown the pitch at a 28 percent clip (compared to 16.8 percent last season) and hitters only made contact on 59 percent of the pitches (the lowest among his repertoire).
Gee's peripherals have vastly improved by posting a 7.09 K/9 and a 3.45 BB/9. He has dropped his slider to the fourth pitch in his repertoire throwing it 4.6 percent of the time (15.4 percent in 2010), while he continues to throw his curveball at 9 percent. This shift has a resulted in a jump from 7.9 to 10.4 percent in his swinging strike percentage.
Like last season, Gee has benefited from an above average BABIP (.241). However, his 69.3 percent strand rate suggests that his performance cannot be chalked up to luck. This isn't a large enough of a sample size to suggest Gee will become a viable major league starter, but one cannot argue the significant boost he has provided the Mets. Let's just say there have been pitchers who have carved out nice careers with worse stuff than Gee has shown in 2011.