Dillon Gee isn’t a Met anymore. Nor is he a starter (at least not as his primary role). The 30-year-old right-hander is working out of the bullpen in his first season with the Royals. No longer needed in New York, he inked a free-agent deal with Kansas City over the winter.
Gee was a solid, albeit unremarkable, starter for the Mets from 2011 to -14. Then the deGroms, Harveys and Syndergaards burst onto the scene (the ageless Bartolo, too). That made it time to move on, and Gee is now a long reliever making spot starts for a new team. He’s adapting well. In 12 appearances for the defending World Series champs, he has a 3.98 ERA and a career-best 8.2 K/9.
Gee talked about his transition earlier in the season.
Gee on transitioning to the Royals and a relief role: “I’m probably a better pitcher now than I was in my earlier years. This is just the role I have now. I kind of got phased out in New York. They obviously had some young studs coming up, and I lost my spot there. I had a few opportunities to remain a starter with other teams, but I chose to come here and contribute out of the bullpen for a winning team.
“I basically bought in to the role. I could still start, but that’s not what the team needs me to do right now. I don’t want to go out there thinking, ‘Oh, I have to pitch out of the pen, because this is what I’m stuck with.’ This is just a different part of my career. If I’m in the pen, I’m in the pen. I want to embrace this and be the best long man I can be.
“I wouldn’t say I pitch any differently out of the pen, but it does feel different. When you come in as a reliever, in the middle of the game, the hitters have seen a bunch of pitches already. You have to be ready to go; your stuff has to be crisp. As a starter, I felt it was more like a boxing match. You’re feeling each other out for the first couple of innings. As a reliever, you have to be sharp right away.
“As a starter, you have a couple of innings to see what is going to work best that day, and you can eliminate pitches from there. I throw sinkers, a changeup, a curveball, a slider, and an occasional four-seamer.
“If I were a one-inning reliever, it might be best to go out there with my two best pitches every time. But as a long guy, I’m going to pitch two, three, four innings. I’m facing guys more than once, so I have to attack more like a starter.
“I like to look at scouting reports, but it seems like I end up mostly just pitching to my strengths. I obviously like to know if there are any glaring holes or weaknesses that I can try to attack, but I usually pitch more to who I am.
“Since moving to the bullpen, my velocity is up for the most part. It had been going down every year as a starter. I’ve almost been up to 94 this year — I had a pitch that was 93-something — and in years past I was probably averaging 89-something.
“It’s nice to feel you’re throwing harder — it’s always nice when you have a little extra when you reach back — but my game is to hit spots with four different pitches, change speeds, and change eye levels. I want to get weak contact and ground balls. Velocity doesn’t play a huge role in that.
“Stuff-wise, it’s always a battle. Sometimes you feel good and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the changeup is coming out the way it’s supposed to be, with the right spin and the right depth to it. Other times it isn’t.
“Physically, I feel as good as I probably ever have. Of course, that’s always a battle too. It’s a long season. I don’t think being 30 years old has anything to do with how I feel. I feel pretty good. The biggest thing for me is just trying to adjust to a new role. Being in the bullpen is an adjustment, for sure.”
David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.