Can Dillon Gee, Jon Niese, and Zack Wheeler get the calls in 2014?

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The pitchers didn't get generous strike zone calls last year.

Over at Fangraphs earlier this week, Jeff Sullivan wrote about Zack Wheeler and why he thinks Wheeler will improve in his second year in the majors. He touches upon strikeout rates, walk rates, and age, but the meat of the article focuses on the fact that Wheeler often had strikes called balls by the home plate umpire and rarely had balls called strikes.

The natural conclusion to this data is that we should expect some regression to the mean in these areas next season, especially considering that John Buck and Anthony Recker were doing the bulk of the catching for Wheeler last year. Noted strike thief Travis d'Arnaud will be doing the majority of the catching this year and should help in this regard.

So how did the rest of the Mets' pitchers fare in those areas last year?

Let's take a look at the table below, where zTkB is the percentage of taken pitches in the zone that were called balls, and oTkS is the percentage of taken pitches outside the zone that were called strikes. A higher zTkB than average means a pitcher threw a lot of strikes that ended up being called balls. A lower oTkS means a pitcher was below average at getting borderline pitches called strikes. All data is from StatCorner.com.

zTkB oTkS
Dillon Gee 14% 3.4%
John Niese 20% 5.0%
Zack Wheeler 20% 4.7%
League Avg 14% 7.1%

In addition to Wheeler and with the exception of Gee's in-zone pitches called balls, all three returning starters were below average in both categories. This isn't terribly surprising given the Buck-and-Recker effect. However, it's little things like this that can add up over the course of a season, especially considering the Mets threw almost 24,000 pitches last year. It seems unlikely these three will remain below average at getting these calls, and that bodes well for the 2014 Mets.

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