Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Continued Improvement

If you blinked, perhaps you missed last night's 3-2 Met win in Washington. As the season has dwindled down to a mere month's worth of games, it's nice to see that some of the pitchers that we expect to see around here going forward have become significantly more economical while continuing to pitch well. We saw Jonathon Niese do this on Tuesday, when his Shutout was accomplished in a mere 2 hours, 20 minutes, and last night it was Dillon Gee continuing his run of solid pitching as he kept the Nationals mostly in check into the 8th inning.

Gee's remarkable turnaround over the last 3 months has been as pleasant a surprise as any we've seen on the Mets this season, and after wondering what, exactly, he was after struggling early, he's righted the ship and has pitched well enough to be a 10-win pitcher for the 2nd time in his 3 Major League season. Ultimately, he's become exactly the kind of pitcher the Mets hoped he would be, and perhaps even better considering that the expectations were that Gee would be sort of a 6-inning, back end of the rotation guy who wouldn't kill you. He's certainly not killing the team; even his poor outings (ie last Sunday vs. Detroit) have been solid enough to keep the Mets in games. But when he's been good, he's been great, and last night, he was great. The offense managed to get him just enough runs to offset a pair of Home Runs, and when he departed, after 7.2 innings, the Mets were in position for a victory against a Nationals team that's been on a bit of a hot streak.

Certainly, Gee (and everyone watching at home) would like a bit more of a cushion, and certainly, Gee has been victimized by a lack of run support as much as any Met pitcher this season. But one thing Gee has always been able to do is pitch smart, and pitch to the situation and the score of the game. Given his slim 2-1 lead for a majority of the game, Gee worked carefully and navigated through the National lineup over the middle innings with little drama to speak of. Once the Mets got him an insurance run, courtesy of an ill-advised throw from 3rd by Ryan Zimmerman coupled with some heady baserunning from Daniel Murphy (who has decided to start hitting again—we'll see how long this lasts), Gee went back for the 8th and started getting a little more aggressive. Yes, he got burned by a rare Home Run from shrimpy Steve Lombardozzi, Jr., and yes, he tired shortly thereafter and couldn't complete the inning, but Scott Rice and LaTroy Hawkins finished up nicely and the Mets stopped Washington in their tracks.

While we're on the subject of continually improving Mets pitchers, there's another one on the mound tonight in Zack Wheeler, who comes with a significantly higher ceiling than Gee, one that he's slowly but surely begun to live up to.

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