With Zack Wheeler’s eventual call up to Queens to come in the next week or two, Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner are doing their best to not lose their spot in the rotation. Simply put, they are not going down without a fight.
While the club and Terry Collins are trying to downplay the addition of Wheeler, claiming he’ll be no “savior” and issuing statements like, “one guy is not going to turn this around for us. It takes 25,” the truth, at the minimum, is Wheeler’s addition will mean either Gee or Hefner will have to go to the bullpen.
Right now, both are pitching like they want no part of a demotion, as they rightfully should. While some of the staff has hit a rough patch (yes that includes Matt Harvey) in the last week or so since the sweep of the Yankees, Hefner and Gee are pitching like it could be the end of the line for them. They also look like they are trying to outdo one another.
They say competition breeds success. Well, if that is true, it is never more apparent than in the Mets’ clubhouse.
Consider the last two starts for both Gee and Hefner.
- Last two starts for Gee: 14.1 innings pitched, 13 hits, one walk and two earned runs allowed with 19 strikeouts
- Last two starts for Hefner: 13 innings pitched, 13 hits allowed, one walk and four earned runs allowed with 12 strikeouts.
When you compare their season statistics, they are also similar.
Gee is 4-6 in 12 games started, while Hefner is 1-5 in 11 games started. Hefner has been the more unlucky pitcher, as he has a better ERA (4.36) and WHIP (1.23), whereas Gee sports a 5.20 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. They are also both average strikeout pitchers with Gee spotting a 7.7 K/9 ratio while Hefner’s is 6.9
So, who would choose to demote when Wheeler gets the call?
With Harvey pitching lights out; Jonathon Niese an entrenched member of the staff through thick and thin; and Shaun Marcum a trusted veteran pitcher who, himself, is battling bad luck, who does Collins bump to make room for Wheeler?
Before we answer that, let’s also get something straight. Collins and the Mets are likely right when it comes to Wheeler.
The likelihood of Wheeler coming up and dominating in the same way Harvey did would be a stretch and let’s not put any additional undue pressure on Wheeler. Let him adjust to the speed of the majors. So, while Wheeler’s arrival is exciting and will create a buzz, he should be treated with kid gloves and be eased into the rotation.
To answer the question about who should be sent to the bullpen between Gee and Hefner, well, it sure is a loaded question.
Hefner has been pitching better for most of the year, but with Gee getting his act together of late, Gee might be the better fit for the staff. Hefner has proven to do well out of the bullpen and his stuff works better in that role as opposed to Gee.
In any event, enjoy the pitching efforts being put forth by Gee and Hefner. The addition of Wheeler will only make the rotation that much better and the internal competition could possibly ignite this staff the bigger and better things.