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.

12 comments on “Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner in race to avoid being demoted

  • Jerry Grote

    and why is it that we aren’t including Marcum in this discussion. Or for that matter, trading Mr. Neise?

  • Metsense

    While Gee and Hefner are pitching well leave Wheeler at AAA until one blinks. If by July 1st (well past Super 2 which is an arbitrary date) neither blinks, bring up Wheeler and make the decision and maybe include Marcum in that mix. If by July 1st,Marcum hasn’t seperated from Heff and Gee he should be included in the decision.

  • Name

    At this point you could flip a coin to decide who should get the boot.

    I have a suspicion that Hefner’s prior expereience in the pen may be the ultimate factor.

  • Brian Joura

    Everyone talks about Hefner’s “experience” as a reliever. Well, he has all of 25.1 IP in the bullpen – which is fewer innings than Robert Carson’s experience. And it’s not like he’s done a particularly good job — he has a 4.97 ERA with only 10 Ks, about half what he averages as a SP.

    Whoever goes to the bullpen will not be pitching high leverage innings. They would be either the #6 or #7 option, depending if Carson gets sent out to make room for Wheeler. The worst pitcher – and this competition should definitely include Marcum – should go to the pen if/when Wheeler gets the call. Like Name says, you could almost flip a coin right now, but I’d like to see a couple more starts from all of them before making the decision.

    But if they make the move sooner than that and we hear management trot out the Hefner/experience justification – let’s identify it as the crock of spit, after-the-fact justification that it really is.

    • Jerry Grote

      I’d love a trade, right here. A combination of one of those four pitchers, one of Davis/Duda, and two of Puello/Rodriguez/Flores and I think you can get Rios or Cargo. Sweeten it up with Montero/Thor and I think you are in Stanton territory.

      It’s just the time to pull the trigger. You know Sandy’s phone is ringing off the hook.

      There’s still a chance, so slight, to make substantial changes in the lineup and in makeup of the team. Get a legitimate fielding/slugging OF, bring up a substantial starter, you’ve got the hole at SS band-aided, and maybe Leathersich to help out in the bullpen, and move Duda to 1B and the whole damned team changes.

      Then you are one CF, just one *mediocre not godawful* CF from a really, really good team. Make the trade Sandy, make it.

      • Name

        A little too Mets-centric here.
        No reason for the Rockies to deal CarGo with their success this year. And Stanton is hurt and wasn’t playing well before the injury and the Marlins aren’t going to sell low on him.

        Rios may be available but I have no idea what the White Sox think of their season right now and how they approach their future.

  • David Groveman

    I would say that Gee, Marcum and Hefner don’t strike me as solid bullpen options. They don’t have that relief spark in my eyes but right now I’d be quicker to demote Marcum.

  • NormE

    I’m not sure it really matters if it’s Hefner, Gee or Marcum. The offense, most nights, is so anemic that it would try even the best pitching staffs.

    I agree with Metsense, and would add the hope that Marcum pitches well enough so that he can be moved before the trade deadline.

  • Steve Rogers

    Could just use the chance to send Ike Davis down and move Gee or Heffner to the pen.

  • peter

    If it’s what is best for the team then Gee is not a good fit in the bull pen. Maybe at the trade deadline the Mets can pick up an out fielder for Marcum and then bring Hefner back into the rotation,

  • Dan Stack

    I don’t get the notion for sending Marcum to the bullpen. Sure, he has been bad for the better part of the year, but outside of his last inning in the Miami game, he too has been pitching well of late. Like Spencer pointed out in his article a few days ago, he has been really unlucky. Plus, he was signed to be part of the rotation. As long as he is healthy and turning the corner, as has been showing of late-he has to be given a long rope. His career numbers suggest he’s a solid mid-rotation guy.

  • peter

    You diminish his trade value if you send him to the bull pen. Leave him in the rotation and as the trading deadline approaches his value will increase for those teams in need of a starter.

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