In what he has called “the weirdest year of his life,” New York Mets Starting Pitcher Dillon Gee has once again met peculiar circumstances, as he begins his relief-pitching career.
Gee was slotted to be the sixth man in the Mets’ highly contentious six-man rotation, but after surrendering seven runs (four earned) in his first start off of the DL, the Mets hastily nixed their six-man rotation ambitions and assigned Gee to the bullpen.
The Mets intended to use the six-man rotation to lessen the workload for their young starters with injury histories, namely Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. For now they will continue to pitch on regular rest, but rumors have surfaced that pitching prospect Steven Matz’ arrival may be near, which may once again force the issue of a six-man rotation.
Matz has posted a 1.94 ERA this season in Triple-A Las Vegas, and Mets fans eagerly await his arrival, much as they did Noah Syndergaard’s nearly a month ago.
As his time approaches, fans look towards the rotation of the future, consisting of Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, and Zack Wheeler. But for now, with Bartolo Colon still productive and entertaining as ever and Jon Niese pitching service-ably despite recent struggles, the team has what they’ve called a “logjam” of starting pitchers, one which they see better filled by Matz than Gee.
General Manager Sandy Alderson has claimed it’s “very possible” that Matz would already be in the starting rotation if not for the Mets’ abundance of starting pitching, so with the Mets viewing the six-man rotation as advantageous and praising Matz’ abilities, there’s reason to believe he might be the rotation’s sixth man sooner than later.
Manager Terry Collins has said that the Mets would like for Matz to log 180-185 innings this year, and as the Mets sit atop the NL East, it’s feasible to consider the team a playoff contender. This requires the Mets to closely manage the durability of front line starters such as Harvey, a task well suited for the innings-limited Matz.
Gee, who’d just set the franchise record with 51 consecutive starts of five or more innings pitched, isn’t entirely content with his re-appropriation, stating that the move diminishes both his trade-value and his value to the team. He claimed himself “unproven in the pen,” despite his vows to help the team however he can.
In a sense the team is right back where it started the season, with Gee uncomfortably in limbo, potentially soon to be traded, and Matz lighting up the minor leagues, prompting discussion of a call up. But at this point we may be closer to these phenomenons occurring than we were in March, as the Mets lead the NL East and strive to prove that winning is their main priority, and they’re in it to win now.