(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
When Dillon Gee threw eight strong innings against the Pirates on Memorial Day, he improved his Win - Loss record, something to which I rarely refer anymore, to 5-0 on the season. His record and his ERA have plenty of people singing his praises. A couple of hilarious examples:
"Every start this year is a party for Gee, because when you're 5-0, the party never stops."
"Gee has undoubtedly earned the trust of his teammates and his manager, making himself a proven mainstay in the Mets’ rotation."
And there were slightly more rational things said all over the place about Gee's 5-0 record and how it stacked up there in the history of Mets' rookies, but the overall tone has been that Gee has shown himself to be a good major league pitcher.
Of course, the 25-year-old right-handed pitcher has still only thrown 80.0 innings in the big leagues, not even half a season's worth of results by which he can be judged. Gee drew some attention in the meaningless September of 2010 when he posted an incredibly unsustainable 2.18 ERA over the course of 5 starts that spanned 33 innings. In that tiny sample, he had a 4.20 FIP and 5.00 xFIP.
What Gee has done so far this season looks much better. With 7.1 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9, Gee's 3.83 ERA on the year is only a tick lower than his 3.94 FIP and his 4.05 xFIP. Combine that with the cup of coffee from last September, and Gee is sporting 3.14 ERA, 4.04 FIP, and 4.44 xFIP in his big league career.
Looking back at his minor league track record, Gee was for the most part a control specialist who struck out a few opposing batters and barely walked anyone. Over 437.2 innings of work, his 7.9 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 are nothing to sneeze at. Those numbers also remind me a bit of Kevin Slowey of the Twins, albeit with slightly higher strikeout and walk numbers. All in all, looking at that track record, Gee's 2011 strikeout and walk rates don't seem unreasonable.
Turning back to his big league stats, Gee doesn't appear to have been particularly lucky or unlucky on the whole. His .241 Batting Average on Balls in Play is definitely on the low end and figures to rise, but he's not stranding an inordinate number of baserunners. He's also given up a reasonable number of home runs on his fly balls.
While there aren't a bunch of major red flags saying Gee is bound to regress in a big way, he's gotten the benefit of facing some offensively challenged opponents. In his seven starts this year, Gee has faced only two teams who are scoring at a rate above the National League average: the Diamondbacks and Cubs. He faced the Astros, who are just a bit below NL average, but he's also faced Nationals, Braves, Pirates, and Dodgers, four of the lowest-scoring teams in the league.
Dillon Gee still has a lot of work to do to prove himself at this level. Since stepping in for the injured Chris Young, Gee has provided pretty much the same results that were expected out of Young when the year began. Whether or not he can maintain what he's doing when he faces some of the better lineups in baseball remains to be seen, but that doesn't look impossible.
For now, Gee looks like a capable major league pitcher, and that's a pleasant surprise for the Mets. As long as the expectations for Gee are befitting of a capable pitcher and not the next Ace of Queens, the Mets and their fans probably won't be disappointed by his results.