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Gee Leads Strong Performance by Mets’ Starting Rotation

by Guy Kipp | Posted on Monday, April 28th, 2014
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Dillon Gee is one of the best right-handers in the National League.

At what point do we have enough evidence to consider that a legitimate statement?

Gee’s eight innings of three-hit shutout pitching in the Mets’ 4-0 victory over Miami on Sunday lowered his 2014 ERA to 2.88 in six starts and 40 2/3 innings, and he broke through the glass ceiling of seven innings to go eight—the first Met starter to do so this season.

Since May 30 of last year, Gee has a 2.75 ERA. Is that enough evidence?

During Sunday’s telecast, Gary Cohen and Ron Darling were talking about how Marlins starting pitcher Tom Koehler has a “chip on his shoulder” that developed from being in the minor leagues for nine years and being a pitcher who no one seems to believe in from a scouting standpoint.

Although he didn’t spend nine years in the minors, isn’t that what Dillon Gee is? Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia, as well as injured Matt Harvey and starter-in-waiting Noah Syndergaard, all throw harder. And, to be sure, the entire Mets starting rotation has been the single biggest reason the team is off to a 14-11 start this season. But Gee has been doing this for almost four years now. It’s time he was recognized as one of the league’s better pitchers, even if his fastball tops out at “only” 92 mph.

In many ways, Gee is this generation’s Rick Reed. From 1997-2001, Reed—who, like Gee, wore No. 35—parlayed great command and uncanny consistency to a string of winning records and standout performances in big games despite a conspicuous lack of praise or attention for his work, and despite a fastball that never exceeded the very-low 90s.

Bobby Jones, a contemporary of Rick Reed’s with an even blander name and an even slower fastball, was another overlooked starting pitcher in Mets’ lore who ended up pitching one of the greatest games any Met starter ever pitched when he threw a one-hitter in the clinching game of the 2000 National League Division Series against the Giants.

When Gee went 13-6 in 2011, sabermetric-minded sportswriters penned stories about how he’d probably slip backward the following season because his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) numbers did not equate with his results. Instead, in each subsequent season, Dillon Gee’s ERA has continued to go down: From 4.43 to 4.10 to 3.62 to this year’s 2.88 through the first four weeks.

Gee will probably always have to deal with a general stubbornness among the baseball establishment to give a pitcher of his ilk his proper due. And if there comes a day when Wheeler, Mejia, Harvey and Syndergaard, as well as Triple-A prospect Rafael Montero and veteran lefty and long-term contract holder Jon Niese, are all healthy, guess who will most likely be deemed the expendable piece from the rotation?

Right, the pitcher with the most complete resume and the most impressive body of work, that’s who.

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