Mets can't shake off early damage off Gee

Three of four Fish runs in first two frames; Flores robbed in key spot

Mets can't shake off early damage off Gee

NEW YORK -- Dillon Gee went into his start Wednesday night, ultimately a 4-3 Mets loss to the Marlins, with high hopes. He entered trending upward after a mostly poor second half, and with this in all likelihood serving as the penultimate start of his season, another step in the right direction could prove significant as Gee prepares to settle in for the winter.

Like his 2014 season, though, Gee's outing seemed two-sided. The right-hander limited early trouble before working quickly in the later innings, ultimately yielding four runs in 6 2/3 innings.

"Tonight was another example of me," Gee said. "I think the last few [games], I've felt fairly normal. A lot of things haven't gone the way you want them to. For the most part, these last four or five outings, I haven't felt that bad."

The breakdown provides a better look into Gee's split night:

• First two innings: three runs, five hits, one walk, 43 pitches.

• Final 4 2/3 innings: one run, two hits, one walk, 50 pitches.

Much of the early damage was not especially hard hit -- more just soft line drives and ground balls that found holes. Marcell Ozuna's first-inning single to load the bases, for example, was a ground ball through the left side. One batter later, Garrett Jones' dribbler up the third-base line was good for a single and an RBI.

Still, Gee ended the night with a 4.95 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in the second half, and he has one chance -- Wednesday against the Nationals, if the Mets stay in the same rotation order -- to prove his first-half self is still in there somewhere. In an injury-shortened start to the season, Gee had a 2.57 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP.

How heavily the Mets might weigh Gee's mediocre second half when it comes to their 2015 rotation is unclear. What is clear, however, is that there are at least six arms and five rotation spots.

Health pending, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom are guarantees. Jon Niese seems to have an advantage as the lone lefty in the group. That leaves Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee.

Colon as potential trade bait has been a much-discussed topic, but there is reason to believe Gee -- should the Mets make him available -- is a more appealing target for other clubs. He has put up similar numbers as Colon, but is only 28 and won't be a free agent until 2017.

In other words, Gee is far younger and can provide more low-cost production than the 41-year-old Colon, who is set to make $11 million in 2015, the last year of his contract.

"We're certainly very, very aware of what our rotation can do, and now we're going to add Matt to the mix," manager Terry Collins said in regards to 2015. "We'll have to make some decisions, but they're good decisions."

As for Wednesday, the Mets' swings resulted in the opposite of Miami's fortune for much of the night. At least five line drives found Miami gloves, and one booming fly ball off the bat of Wilmer Flores -- which seemed poised to at least tie the game -- turned into an out when a leaping Ozuna tracked it down at the wall in left-center.

"I wasn't sure if it was going, but I thought it had a chance. I got under it a little bit," Flores said. "I kept an eye on [Ozuna]. When I saw him jump, I said, 'OK, it's at least a double.' But he made a great play. Just tip my cap."

Two New York runs scored when a line drive did find a patch of green against Miami righty Henderson Alvarez (six innings, two runs allowed). Lucas Duda's fifth-inning single to center plated Gee and Matt den Dekker. Gee reached four batters earlier with a single, ending an 0-for-41 skid that dated back to Sept. 15, 2013.

"It would've been nicer if it resulted in a win," Gee said.

That hasn't happened for him much in recent months, but Collins is hopeful he'll regain his springtime form.

"We have to get Dillon going here somehow. We have to find out what's going on. He just hasn't been the same guy in the second half," Collins said. "Dillon Gee, perhaps, over resting in the wintertime, comes back in Spring Training, and that's where you'll see a marked improvement or find out if he's the same guy that we saw in the first half.

"He can win at this level, there's no doubt about that."

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.