The early-season struggles of Dillon Gee

The Mets’ starting rotation has been frustrating this season. Starters Jonathon Niese and Matt Harvey have turned out consistent — and at times superb — starts this season, however the rest of the rotation has been mediocre at best. Granted, it’s early yet, but no one has been more of a disappointment this season than Dillon Gee, whose starts have been solid at times, yet at other times he has struggled.

Gee’s problems can probably be attributed to the fact that he lost most of his 2012 campaign to a blood clot in his right shoulder which required season-ending surgery. Anytime a player has undergone some sort of shoulder injury it raises concern, as this usually leads to a decline in velocity. Pitchers like Brandon Webb and Mark Mulder have had to retire early due to shoulder injuries. The good news for Gee is that his injury hasn’t been serious enough to make him retire, but it definitely has caused some decline in velocity.

Year Fastball Velocity Two Seam Fastball Velocity Cutter Velocity Slider Velocity Curveball Velocity Changeup Velocity
2011 89.0 89.7 N/A 81.3 73.3 82.5
2012 90.1 90.2 84.0 81.9 73.8 83.1
2013 87.6 88.0 85.9 89.9 73.1 82.5

Although we’re dealing with a small sample size of only 19.2 innings thrown, it appears that Gee’s stuff just is not quite there. He’s lost three miles per hour off his average fastball. Gee has never been a flamethrower by any stretch of the imagination, but losing three miles per hour on his fastball, when he didn’t have much velocity to begin with, can make a significant difference in how he performs. His inconsistency could be attributed to the fact that he doesn’t necessarily have a strong fastball to counteract his secondary pitches, making him very vulnerable because it’s difficult for him to keep opposing batters off balance the way he did before his shoulder injury.

Gee’s decline in velocity and early season struggles raise questions of what’s in store for the 2013 season. He has still only made four starts, and there is still plenty of time for him to turn himself around. He might even be able to regain his velocity as the season progresses.

The key to Gee’s success will be whether or not he can harness his control. Gee’s pitches have not only been flat, but his control has been terrible with a 1.75 K/BB ratio. Locating his pitches has been Gee’s problem. On Friday night, he left a changeup up in the zone, which was then crushed into the centerfield stands. These are the types of things that Gee has to watch out for, he can only get away with low velocities if he can locate his pitches and keep them down. If he leaves pitches up, they’re going to be crushed. As long as he can learn to compensate for his low velocities by keeping his pitches down and locating them effectively, he will be fine.

6 comments for “The early-season struggles of Dillon Gee

  1. Chris F
    April 28, 2013 at 8:57 am

    IMO Gee is a 5 or more likely 6 guy at best in a ledit contender team,. Heaping a lot of expectation comes from the fact after Harvey and Niese there are real long-term solutions to the rotation presently in Flushing. Because he’s part of the future, it’s easy to expect him to be more than he is. I think it’s a mistake. A playoff team can use a guy like Gee if he develops into an innings gobbler with a sub 4 ERA. Unfortunately at age 27 “develop” is not the word I wish we were talking about. I see Gee as another part of a mediocre club right now.

  2. April 28, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Looking solely at velocity, I’m alarmed at how the difference between his FB and CH has dropped from ~7 MPH to 5-6 MPH. It’s hard to fool batters when you’re fastball and changeup are almost the same pitch.
    The other item of note is his slider velocity. If these numbers are correct, he’s actually throwing it HARDER than his fastball. That may be useful to fool batters looking for a straight fastball instead of a breaking pitch, but can he keep that up? I’d rather he throw his FB harder and make the CH a stronger pitch.

  3. April 28, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I feel like I should be patient with Gee because he is returning from injury. It’s hard though, especially when the rest of the fill-ins are just awful right now. I think we were all hoping from stability from Gee because of the loss of Santana and (until now) Marcum. Maybe that wasn’t fair.

    All that being said, the drop in velocity makes sense. The question is can be get it back up. This is probably something he should have been doing in AAA, but the Mets really didn’t have a choice there huh?

  4. Name
    April 28, 2013 at 11:55 am

    In Spring Training, it was clear that he was still trying to rediscover pitching; he had no control. Those control issues have plagued him in the start of the season. What’s encouraging though is that he seems to have found something in his last two starts, at one point having 10.2 scoreless inning streak, with slightly improved command, but still not great.

    Also, it’s worth noting that Gee also had a terrible start to last year’s season(5.65 ERA over first 7 starts), but he really kicked it into gear by mid-May, posting a subperb 3.11 ERA in his final 10 starts, so there’s still a lot of hope Gee can turn it around and be productive.

    • Chris F
      April 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm

      It’s interesting about this “slow start” problem…makes me wonder whether spring training is sufficient, or if the coaching staff is capable of adequately making preparation for playing 162 games. Competitive teams don’t have the luxury of only playing 100 games a year, whether it be a slow start or a collapsed September.

  5. April 29, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    In his last start against PHI — Gee’s average FB velocity was 89.8 or right in line with what he did in 2011 and 2012.

    I’m not worried about Gee. He’s had three bad starts out of five. Two of which have come against the Phillies, a team that looks like they just own him. The other one was in the miserable conditions in Colorado.

    If he can pitch in normal weather, and miss the Phillies the next time they play, I think he’s going to be fine.

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