Kansas City Royals Dillon Gee Adds Depth, Not Much Else

Mar 18, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Dillon Gee (53) throws to the plate during the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Dillon Gee (53) throws to the plate during the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

Dillon Gee probably won’t be the next Ervin Santana or Chris Young

As the Kansas City Royals enter Spring Training, Kings of Kauffman will release a series of articles on the 25-man roster. We will be going through each individual player, including the locks, bubble players, and a few prospects. We will progress through the roster from the top down, continuing with the players we forgot about.

So far, we have looked at Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Ian Kennedy, Chris Young, Danny Duffy, Kris Medlen, Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, Wade Davis, Salvador PerezEric HosmerOmar Infante, Christian ColonMike MoustakasAlcides EscobarAlex Gordon, Lorenzo CainJarrod Dyson, Paulo OrlandoReymond Fuentes, Drew Butera, Tony Cruz, and Cheslor Cuthbert.

Today, we will be looking at Dillon Gee

All statistics provided by Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and Brooks Baseball

"2015 stats – 0-3, 5.90 ERA, 25 SO, 11 BB, 39.2 IP, 1.66 WHIP, 4.42 FIP2016 Steamer -4-4, 3.91 ERA, 46 SO, 15 BB, 69.0 IP, 1.26 WHIP, 4.24 FIP"

Projected Role – Bottom of the Rotation Starter/Long Reliever/Triple-A Starter

2015 Results

Dillon Gee‘s 2015 season was both unfortunate and predictable.

After dealing with injury and regression in 2014, he was moved to the bullpen in 2015. However, Zach Wheeler’s Tommy John surgery enabled him to return to the rotation.

He posted a 3.86 ERA over his first 30.1 IP, before headed off to the DL for a groin injury. He missed less than a month, but unfortunately for him, was replaced by a guy named Noah Syndergaard.

By the time he returned from the DL in June, the Mets rotation was a log jam, now including Syndergaard, with Steven Matz not far behind.

Gee was put back in the rotation, but gave up four earned runs in just four innings in his return on June 3rd. After coming out of the bullpen on June 9th, he was given one more start on the 14th, where he gave up eight earned runs in just 3.2 innings.

Gee was designated for assignment the next day.

In his 14 following starts for Triple-A Nevada, he posted a 4.58 ERA, giving up 105 hits in just 88 IP.

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I called Gee’s 2015 unfortunate because he was pitching well before his injury and likely would have been a major league starting pitcher for the duration of last season, had he pitched for basically any team not named the Mets or Indians.

However, it was also predictable in regards to his effectiveness.

Gee peaked in 2012, striking out nearly eight batters per nine IP, while seeing his FIP outperform his ERA (3.71 to 4.10).

In 2013, Gee began to regress, while his base numbers provided his fans with optimism. His ERA dropped from 4.10 to 3.62, while he also threw a career high 199 innings.

While those numbers improved, his FIP went up substantially (3.71 to 4.00) while his K/9 took a nose dive, falling from the eight range to 6.42. His 1.9 fWAR barely outpaced the 1.6 he posted the year before, despite throwing 90 more innings.

This trend continued in 2014, with his K/9 dropping to 6.16 and his FIP jumping to 4.52. His ERA remained tolerable at 4.00, however, due to him being able to keep the ball on the ground, and for the most part, in the yard.

The trend ultimately peaked in 2015, with his K/9 finally dropping below six, to 5.67. He fared better in Triple-A, but not by much, with that K/9 still crawling at 6.42.

2016 Outlook 

Dayton Moore signed Gee to a minor-league contract with a non-roster invitation to Spring Training, alongside veterans like Chien-Ming Wang and Peter Moylan. Gee had an opt-out in his contract, so the Royals were forced to decide whether or not to add Gee to the 40-man roster, which they did on March 15.

I got a generally optimistic vibe from Royals fans regarding Gee, and I get it.

This enthusiasm is similar to that of Kris Medlen and Mike Minor. All three have very productive seasons in the not-so distant past.

The Royals also have a fantastic history with pitching reclamation projects, including guys like Ervin Santana, Chris Young, and Jeremy Guthrie, among others.

However, with Gee, that production was not really all that special.

The best argument that can be made for Gee is that he will be playing in front of the Royals defense, which is a legitimate argument.

When you pair the Royals defense and Dave Eiland, you get 2013-14 Guthrie, who put together a 1.5 fWAR while striking out just five batters per nine innings over those two seasons.

Gee plays into that narrative as well as anybody, being a guy that will induce a lot of ground balls. Really, the only thing that can derail a Royals pitchers season is the inability to keep the ball in the yard. If you do that consistently, Royals defenders are going to keep your head above water.

Gee seems like a guy that could do that. So I don’t doubt that he could step in and be a decent run preventer, even if his FIP wasn’t easy to look at.

However, Danny Duffy, Young, and Medlen are also very capable of that, each with some legitimate upside.

If Gee steps in as a spot starter and a long-man, so be it. More power to the Royals. But no, I’m not rooting for him to be in the rotation.

His peak production at the major league level was average, at best, and he’s got an aging, injury prone arm.

With that being said, he’ll probably come out of camp throwing 95 and win AL Comeback Player of the Year.

That’s how this works, right?