Gee’s up?

Over at Amazin’ Avenue, Chris McShane examines Dillon Gee’s start to the season and wonders if the 26-year-old’s improved peripheral numbers indicate some real improvement.

It’s actually something I’ve been planning to ask Gee about next homestand: He’s striking out more guys and walking fewer hitters, but his batting average on balls in play is up, as is his home run per fly ball rate. He’s yielding more ground balls, but also more line drives.

Those results seem to indicate he’s throwing more pitches in the zone and getting hit a bit harder in the process, but this data suggests he’s throwing strikes at a similar rate to last year and yielding less contact (with more swinging strikes). He’s also throwing fewer fastballs. Maybe he’s fooling more hitters more often with breaking stuff, but paying for it when they don’t get fooled?

Beats me. And this is all classic small-sample-size stuff.

To date, Gee has pitched differently in 2012 than he did in 2011, and in some way that’s more amenable to the peripheral-based ERA predictors but that hasn’t yet paid actual dividends — his WHIP, ERA and ERA+ are all worse than they were last year.

This type of return — striking out a decent number of guys while not walking many but getting hit pretty hard — seems more in keeping with Gee’s Triple-A numbers than his 2011 campaign did, so it’s not hard to imagine it continuing. Given that history, though, I’d be pretty shocked if his actual ERA dips down close to his strong FIP and xFIP.

One upside — and again, small sample size — seems to be that Gee has gone deeper into games. This could just be because Gee has to date avoided the type of clunker start that has befallen all his rotation-mates, but he’s averaging 6.3 innings per start, up about a half an inning per start from last season.

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