In his 10th start of 2013, Dillon Gee got knocked around by the Braves and saw his record drop to 2-6 and his ERA balloon to 6.34 after 49.2 IP. A trip to the bullpen almost seemed inevitable. Yet somehow, Gee turned his season around from that point. In his very next start he went 7.1 IP, allowed 1 ER and notched 12 Ks in a win over the Yankees.
Beginning with that outing in the Bronx, Gee went 10-5 over the rest of the season. In 149.1 IP, he had a 2.71 ERA and a 3.5 K/BB ratio. Gee gave up two earned runs or fewer in 15 of his final 22 starts of the season. Additionally, he pitched into the seventh inning 16 times in that stretch. Gee was giving the Mets both quantity and quality.
Yet, Gee is still not considered a rotation mainstay. With the quality arms bubbling up from the minor leagues, few expect Gee to be a starter for the Mets for very much longer. A trade or a trip to the bullpen seems to be his ultimate fate, whether that comes in 2015 or a year or two later seemingly the only thing up for debate.
The most likely reason is that Gee does not light up the radar gun like his more heralded teammates or future replacements. Another nagging thing is that Gee has a rather pronounced home/road split. Last year he had a 2.75 ERA in 95 IP at Citi Field but a 4.41 mark in 104.0 road innings. For his career, Gee has a 3.20 home ERA compared to a 4.64 mark when he wears the road grays.
So, what will he do in 2014? Here’s what we think:
Not one of us is expecting him to carry over his fine pitching from the last two-thirds of the 2013 season over a full year in 2014. Patrick Albanesius and Sean Flattery tie for the most optimistic ERA, both predicting Gee to finish with a 3.45 mark. While that is a very nice number, it’s still nearly three-quarters of a run worse than he did over his final 22 starts a year ago. While none of us are super optimistic when it comes to ERA, we all think he’ll give lots of innings, with my 170 IP forecast the lowest of the bunch.
Here’s what the group as a whole projects for Gee in 2014:
Overall, we expect Gee’s numbers to be slightly down but essentially the same as he produced overall in 2013. We now have the top four starters for the Mets combining for 710 IP. The top four starters for the team last year delivered 651 IP. A noticeable difference for sure. Whether that’s an outrageous difference is up for debate, given the injuries suffered by the Mets’ staff a year ago.
Now let’s see how our numbers compare to the projections available on FanGraphs for Gee:
In a bit of a surprise to me, our forecast is easily the most optimistic one of the group for Gee. All of the systematic approaches expect fewer innings and a worse ERA than he delivered a season ago. The Steamer projection translates to a 1.1 fWAR while the Oliver one has a 0.8 tally. It makes sense on one level, as they are taking his injury-shortened 2012 into account. But Gee has been pretty durable outside of the blood clot and last year he did not miss a start. My main concern with innings is if the club will go to a six-man rotation down the stretch if everyone stays healthy and no one is dealt.
Check back Thursday for our next entry in the projection series.