WASHINGTON -- On May 10, Dillon Gee was 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA, cruising to what Mets manager Terry Collins figured would easily become a 15-win season. But Gee began experiencing shoulder soreness after his outing that day, landed on the disabled list and ultimately missed two months.
When he returned, he was not the same pitcher, going 3-7 with a 5.10 ERA over his final 13 starts. The last of those came Thursday at Nationals Park, when Gee allowed four runs in five innings of a no-decision in the Mets' 7-4 win to cap what he called a "frustrating" season.
"Obviously he's had a rough second half," Collins said. "I wish we had answers."
Throughout that time, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen worked on mechanical tweaks that he hoped would help Gee reclaim his prime form: a 13-6 record and 2.66 ERA over a nearly 12-month span beginning last May 31. But none of it has noticeably helped the right-hander, who struggled to find his usual pinpoint command of the strike zone down the stretch.
"Physically, I think I felt fine," Gee said. "I don't know if I maybe tinkered with some stuff without really knowing it. I definitely just felt a lot different as the year progressed. I could never find that feeling that made me feel so good in the first half. Like I said, physically I felt OK, so there's really no excuse for it."
Whatever the reason, Gee's struggles have made his role somewhat tenuous heading into the winter. The Mets plan to feature a 2015 rotation featuring Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, leaving two available spots for Gee, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. Even if the team winds up trading one of those pitchers or delaying the start to Harvey's season, top prospects Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are both essentially big league-ready as well.
Where that leaves Gee remains to be seen.
"I hope the winter off rests him and everything gets back to where it should be," Collins said, "and he comes back to Spring Training being the guy that he can be."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.