The 2011 Mets were a team that fans and the front office would want to forget; David Wright and Johan Santana were injured, Mike Pelfrey couldn’t maintain any kind of consistency, Jason Bay had another sub-par year, and Jose Reyes departed to Free Agency following the season. One of the few bright spots for this team, mostly in the first half, was the performance of Dillon Gee.
He had come up at the end of 2010 and posted a strong ERA of 2.18 but still started the following year in the minors. But on April 17th, he was called up and quickly caught fire, leading many to believe that he could be a potential mid-rotation starter for the Mets in the future. While he had a 2.86 ERA through nine starts, he was unable to maintain that pace the rest of the year.
Gee hit a brick wall in the second half of the 2011 season, finishing with a relatively unimpressive 4.43 ERA. Regardless, he was rewarded a spot in the 2012 rotation where he was rather inconsistent until his last few starts, but his success was limited due to season-ending surgery. Now the fans and the front office wonder what this man’s role could be for a potential Mets dynasty down the road.
Option 1: He won’t have a role
Gee has been a quality starter at the backend of the rotation for the past few years, and let’s face it, he could even be named one of the best 4th/5th starters in baseball. The problem with his success is that the Mets have many young and talented arms down in the minor leagues. Fortunately for the Mets, this could lead Gee to be massive trade-bait for at least 10 teams that need a quality arm at the backend of the rotation in order to solidify the pitching staff and a potential playoff run. Just to name a few; Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, and the Seattle Mariners. A trade could occur this offseason, next offseason, or maybe Sandy Alderson will pull a rabbit out of the hat and do it at the deadline of 2013 or 2014. Bottom line, Gee is serious trade bait if he pitches well.
Option 2: He will be in the rotation as the #5 man
If Gee continues to pitch exceptionally like he has recently, he will gradually put together a good résumé that could give him a great opportunity down the road. This can be achieved by putting together a great second half that would potentially include a WHIP at or around 1.20, an ERA under 3.50, and enough quality innings to reach at least 190 IP. After an atrocious start to the season, Gee will be able to prove that he has battled back from season-ending surgery to be a reliable backend starter. If given spot in the 2014 rotation, he will need to continue putting up solid numbers. A good line for 2014 would be a 3.00-3.50 ERA, 1.10-1.19 WHIP, and at least 200 IP. If no trade is made and he can put up these quality numbers at the backend of the rotation, then the GM will be faced with the decision to keep him in the rotation for 2015 and beyond.
Option 3: He will be the swingman out of the bullpen
But if Gee’s numbers are not the best quality in the second half of 2013 and he fails to produce in 2014, Alderson will most likely still see the value brings to the table. This could lead him to Jeremy Hefner’s original role: the swingman. He will be the long man in the bullpen and pitch extra-inning games. He will also be the first man picked to spot-start a game. The compelling reasons for this move will be his age and the competition around him. The Mets have at least five quality prospects that will be knocking on the door to kick Gee out and by then he will be almost 30. This may not sit well with Gee due to his limited experience in the bullpen and having an astronomically high ERA as a reliever, despite only one bad outing. This option does not seem very likely and probably will not happen, but it is one realm that a future GM of the Mets could explore with Gee.
Option 4: He’s headed to Las Vegas
This is another option that is not very likely mostly due to Gee’s proven major league effectiveness. However, he might falter, leading Alderson and other GM’s to question his ability. This will steer the future GM of the Metropolitans to make the difficult decision of putting Gee in the minor leagues. Moving Gee to Triple-A will most likely be only temporary until another GM makes a trade for him or he runs out of options.
From his major league debut on September 7, 2010 until the time of writing this article, Gee has always had his supporters. Unfortunately it has always been somewhat of a taboo subject for what his future might look like for the Mets. In his last 10 starts, he has a 2.39 ERA, but unfortunately the second half of 2013 and the first half of 2014 will be make or break for Gee with Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, and many others waiting in the wings to make their MLB debuts.