(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
The Mets released pitcher Dillon Gee on Monday afternoon, designating him for assignment, and it was a move that could have happened a lot sooner.
Gee was 0-3 this season with a 5.90 ERA, and was reduced to the role of spot starter and bullpen duty. This was quite a fall for a guy who was used to being one of the top two starters in the Mets rotation, having started Opening Day in 2014.
The last straw was Sunday’s game in which Gee gave up 8 runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings vs. the Braves. The Mets came back from an 8-3 deficit when Gee left to win 10-8, as the bullpen pitched a shutout.
The Mets shopped Gee in the offseason, mainly to the Texas Rangers, but they could not make a deal. Gee had a tough 2014 season, as he went 7-8 with a 4.00 ERA in 22 games, as he was affected by injuries. He mostly surrendered 5 runs in 5 innings each time he was out there.
Gee started this season with a couple of mediocre outings, but appeared to hit his stride, as he gave up 2 runs and 8 hits in 7 innings against Atlanta on April 22nd, and then he went 7 2/3 innings against Miami on the 27th, allowing just 1 run on 6 hits. Against the Nationals on May 3rd, he gave up 1 run on 6 hits, After that game, he was put on the disabled list and missed a month.
When he came back, Noah Syndergaard had taken Gee’s normal spot in the rotation. If it wasn’t apparent before, it became crystal clear now that Gee was not part of the Mets’ plans. This definitely changed his attitude and that was apparent when he came out of the bullpen last Tuesday against the Giants and gave up a home run and then looked lethargic against the Braves on Sunday.
The rotation is driven by Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, and Syndergaard, along with the ageless Bartolo Colon, who has nine victories this season. Jon Niese is the fifth starter, and the leftie is in a similar spot as Gee, knowing that he is part of the past and could be the next to go. In a similar vein, longtime Met Daniel Murphy is going through the same issues at second base, as Dilson Herrera is playing very well and Collins said he will be hard-pressed to pull Herrera for Murphy when he returns.
The Mets could still get Gee back, as the team is hoping he clears waivers and then accepts an assignment to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he can have a consistent spot in their rotation. That is hard to believe considering how many teams could use pitching help, namely Texas, Boston, and the Yankees.
Mets Manager Terry Collins said of Gee on Monday afternoon, “It’s very, very difficult because I’ve been with Dillon since I came to the Mets in the minor leagues, and watched him develop and watched him fight through injuries, come back and compete, compete, compete and he put up good numbers. It’s just a hard decision to make, but right now it’s all about team and what to do to move forward and we’ve gotta get Dillon back, and now he’ll probably have the innings to do that, and hopefully this is a decision that will help him and also us. He isn’t playing, which I’m sure there’s a good chance he may be, but I just think he’s gotta go pitch and find his release, find the command of his stuff that makes him so successful.”
Collins said of the Mets not needing a sixth starter, “I think right now we have no plans on sticking a sixth guy in there for a spot start. We are going to stay with the five-man (rotation) and if we need to make an adjustment, we’ll do it.”
On Gee’s possibly being distracted by the move to the bullpen and being on the bereavement list last week, Collins said, “Well, I think a lot of things, and we’re gonna throw the injury in there because he actually, right before the injury, though he got the season off to a slow start, he did pitch pretty good before the injury hit, and so rehabbing that trying to get back, and finally getting ready to pitch in the major leagues, and we send him back for more rehab because we’re gonna go to a six-man (rotation).
“A lot of things made it uncomfortable for him, but this is the one thing you’ve gotta be able to do here, and that is fight through the adversity side and he just, again I think, with the kind of pitcher Dillon is, he needs a lot of reps to keep him sharp, and we just couldn’t provide that right now. Again, I think it’s the best for him to go down and hopefully pitch and get back here. Sandy told him, and I truly, truly agree, we’re gonna need a sixth guy here pretty soon,” said Collins.
On how Gee took the news, Collins said, “Professionally, just like you’d expect. He certainly admitted he hasn’t pitched very well and that he has to go down and gotta go pitch and get my command back. I’m sure inside he was better than he was on the outside, I mean worse than he was on the outside, but he handled it like you’d expect a pro to handle it. It’s a part of the game, there’s always a business involved. This is about getting the job done. He knows he’s gotta go work hard, and I know he will.”