At Terry Collins’s press conference last night, he had a kind of throwaway line that caught my attention.
Asked about the 1-2 punch of R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana, Collins said this: “For us to succeed, for us to have a big summer, we’ve got to get Dillon [Gee] and Jon Niese going.”
The thing is, I’m not sure what Collins can expect from Gee and Niese that he hasn’t already gotten. They’ve been going pretty well already.
Take Gee, for example. He pitched to a 4.43 ERA last year. He has pitched to a 4.43 ERA so far this year. He was projected by most systems, prior to the season, at around 4.50 ERA.
And Gee’s ERA is actually deceptive- as per xFIP, he’s at 3.41, suggesting both that he has taken a step forward as a pitcher, and it isn’t hard to underperform xFIP with the defense the Mets put behind him. But expecting Gee to pitch better, when he’s already exceeded any reasonable expectations to date, doesn’t seem fair to ask.
The same is true of Niese. So far this year, his ERA is 3.82, and his xFIP is identical to Gee’s, at 3.41. Again, the difference between results and process is largely the poor defense behind him. He was projected by most around a 4.00 ERA. Exactly where his improvement is to come from is far from clear.
The reality is, Gee and Niese have been extremely competent members of the rotation. Getting them going- that is, pitching better than they already have- has everything to do with improving the Mets defensively. But simply keeping Gee and Niese healthy, along with Dickey, Santana and Chris Young, should allow the Mets to be in almost every ballgame.