‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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Dillon Gee wasn’t expected to play a large role in the Mets’ 2011 season but the starter has worked his way into becoming a permanent fixture in Terry Collins’ rotation. Chris Young’s first stint on the disabled list opened the door for Gee, who was immediately thrown into the fire upon his call-up from Triple-A Buffalo.
Gee arrived in Atlanta on April 17th and snapped the Mets’ seven-game losing skid by pitching 5.2 innings, allowing only a single earned run. If notching a win in his first big league start of the season wasn’t impressive enough, he had been through a hectic ordeal just to take the mound that day. Gee arrived with his Buffalo Bison teammates in Pawtucket at 4 a.m. after catching a red-eye flight and later awoke to the news that he was starting in Atlanta a day later. He hurried to Providence airport but was stuck in Rhode Island for hours due to a long delay before experiencing another three-hour delay in Philadelphia.
When he finally arrived in Atlanta at 1 a.m., he realized that his luggage was missing as he was slated to take the hill at Turner Field in about twelve hours. The baggage never arrived as Gee was forced to make due with Josh Thole’s spikes and Bobby Parnell’s glove. All in all, he did a fine job considering the circumstances.
Gee continued his steady play by earning another victory in his next start at Citi Field against the Diamondbacks but found himself relegated to bullpen for his next three appearances. He validated his recall into the rotation by gutting out two consecutive no-decisions and did what was needed for the Mets to win each game. It was at this point that Gee noticeably displayed a trait that great pitchers share in the ability to keep their team in the games without having their best stuff.
He began to really turn heads on May 19th at Nationals Park. Gee had strung together a no-hitter through 6.2 innings until his opposite number Livan Hernandez broke it up. Gee allowed just two hits through 7.2 innings to secure his third win of the year and claimed his fourth victory while pitching through nasty weather at Wrigley Field against the Cubs.
In his most recent outing versus the Pirates last night, Gee again proved his mettle. He bounced back strongly after surrendering a two-run homer to Chris Snyder in the second inning. Collins later hailed Gee’s mentality.
“For a guy who’s that young, at this level, nothing bothers him. He gets the ball back and keeps pitching. I actually thought his stuff and his command got better from the fourth inning on,” Collins told reporters post-game.
Gee notched a career-high eight strikeouts as he went seven innings to take his 2011 record to an undefeated 5-0. The most impressive statistic of his night was actually that he didn’t allow a single walk, demonstrating superb control.
The performance best underlined the trademarks that make him a unique starter. It is a rarity to find what some call a “crafty righty,” but the term fits Gee to a tee. He is a pitcher that relies upon control coupled with an outstanding change-up. Gee barely maxes out above 90 MPH yet he is able to achieve strong strikeout totals by painting the corners and changing speeds.
He has been “Mr. Dependable” for the Mets this season and stretches himself out near the 100 pitch mark on most occasions. No matter how good his stuff is on any particular start, Gee simply takes the ball and gives the Amazin’s a solid outing every time he is called upon.
Gee has undoubtedly earned the trust of his teammates and his manager, making himself a proven mainstay in the Mets’ rotation. I’d say that he’s about to embark upon a very long big league career. He has the guts and maturity needed to become a trustworthy middle of the rotation starter for the next decade at Citi Field.
Met fans… what do you make of Dillon Gee’s progress? Chime in below or send Sean a tweet @HartyLFC.