After being shut down late in 2012 due to a career threatening blood clot in his pitching arm, New York Mets pitcher Dillon Gee was supposed to be wondering about whether or not he would ever pitch again. Instead, Gee was preoccupied by his brother Jared, who was also having medical issues. He had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for leukemia, a weighty issue for a pair of brothers only in their twenties. By 2013, with his brother in remission and his shoulder healthy, Gee was ready to return to the mound. After a rough start, while he regained his form and arm strength, Gee became the Mets’ second best pitcher, behind star Matt Harvey. Since then, Gee has been pitching exceptionally, exhibiting a newfound focus and motivation.
This season, Gee ranks in the top 25 of Major league Baseball pitchers in ERA, wins above replacement (WAR), quality starts, WHIP, batting average against, opponent OPS, and several other measures. More simply, Dillon Gee has been an ace. Named the Mets’ opening day starter essentially by default, Gee has proven just how good of a pitcher he is. His presence has been invaluable to New York, who have been hanging around the playoff race early this year predominantly on the backs of their pitchers, none of whom have been better than the dominant right-hander Gee.
Things began to turn around starting with last season. Aside from the obvious boost Gee received from his brother’s recovery, Gee began to alter his pitching style. Gee is now throwing fastballs much more frequently than ever before, at an almost 2:1 ratio of fastballs to offspeed pitches. This is especially true of his two-seam, sinking fastball, now his most frequently used pitch. His velocity has not changed, but the additional use of his two-seam fastball represents two things: better confidence in his ability to locate that pitch, and a willingness to allow batters to put the ball in play. Gee is throwing more pitches in the strike zone than in any season prior. As a result, he is getting less swinging strikes than ever before, but more outs in play.
One of the dangers of this is that over time, balls put in play can end up in places where fielders are not. Gee is likely due for some evening out of his luck, although that should in no way undermine the success he has had. Since May 30, 2013, Gee has the fourth best ERA in all of baseball. He may not be able to keep that up should the batted balls against him start to turn into hits, but he has shown over a long enough time that he can be an effective pitcher for the Mets.
Gee will start for New York Saturday, against the Philadelphia Phillies, a team that has had great success against him. In fact, Gee has a worse ERA against the Phillies than any other team. Gee has stepped up to all challengers since his injury, and shown what he is made of. His next game should be no different. No matter how everything shakes out, the Mets are lucky to have him.
Commentary by Brian Moore
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering New York Baseball