So Dillon Gee, of all people, walked six last night. I say “of all people” because his calling card at the minor league level was his excellent control- career 2.0 walks per nine innings in the minors. Consequently, he is frequently compared to Rick Reed, who gave out free passes like he was Jack Benny-1.6 walks per nine at the major league level. But as we will see, Gee’s Reed-like control hasn’t carried over into his major league performance, even though he’s succeeded so far.
The number of Mets pitchers who have walked more than six in a start is a small one, particularly in recent years. In fact, if not for Oliver Perez, it would be a lonely club, indeed. The recent 7 or more?
Oliver Perez, May 9, 2010 (7)
Oliver Perez, July 8, 2009 (7)
Oliver Perez, May 23, 2008 (8)
Oliver Perez, April 11, 2007 (7)
In other words, Oliver Perez had seven-plus walk games as often as Rey Ordonez had home runs- once a season.
Moving further back:
Steve Trachsel, September 4, 2006 (7)
Steve Trachsel, August 31, 2004 (7)
Al Leiter, May 31, 2004 (7)
Steve Trachsel, May 1, 2002 (7)
Mike Hampton, March 29, 2000 (9)
Al Leiter, August 17, 1999 (8)
That’s going back 12 years. Three of the six are from Trachsel, who saw his walk rate steadily increase as his career progressed. The same was true of Leiter, who walked five per nine in 2004. As for Hampton, he was at 4.1 per nine in his season with the Mets. But that game offered special circumstances- it was in Japan, it was a season-opener. An outlier in lots of ways.
The same isn’t really true for Dillon Gee- an outlier, that is. His walk rate for the season is 3.6, which is lower than last season’s 4.1 in 33 innings. Overall, he fits in rather well with these other pitchers in both walk rate and strikeout rate. Check out career rates in walks and strikeouts per nine for Gee and the others on the list, along with Rick Reed:
Dillon Gee 3.8 BB 5.9 BB
Steve Trachsel 3.4 BB 5.7 K
Al Leiter 4.4 BB 7.4 K
Mike Hampton 3.6 BB 5.5 K
Oliver Perez 5.1 BB 9.1 K
Rick Reed 1.6 BB 6.0 K
Obviously, Perez is the one not like the others here. But notice that Gee is actually closer to Oliver Perez in career walk rate so far than he is to Rick Reed. (That’s pretty much the continuum for pitchers, no?)
To be sure, this doesn’t mean Gee cannot succeed at his current peripheral rates. Trachsel and Hampton both had successful seasons with similar peripherals to Gee’s so far.
But at the major league level, Gee’s performance so far means the occasional high-walk game shouldn’t come as a shock. He simply hasn’t been the Rick Reed-alike in New York that he was in the linors.