In desperate need of fresh bullpen arms, the Mets Monday designated Dillon Gee for assignment, potentially ending his five-plus years with the team, and called up reliever Akeel Morris all the way from High-A St. Lucie.
The Mets have 10 days to trade, release or demote Gee, 29, who allowed eight runs in 32/3 innings Sunday before getting bailed out in a 10-8 victory over the Braves.
General manager Sandy Alderson said he was hopeful Gee, if not traded, could regain his form with a stint at Triple-A Las Vegas.
"Dillon did not pitch well, but he's been in and out, so there are maybe some legitimate reasons for that," Alderson said. "But at the same time, we have to try to win games. So we have to make decisions predicated on performance. So it makes it difficult, particularly with someone, for example, like Dillon who has been around for a long time and done quite well for the Mets."
Gee's removal from the roster slightly increases the odds that Ward Melville product Steven Matz will be the next pitcher up if the Mets need a starter. Matz's chances were already good to get called up before the end of the month.
"Does this represent a move up for Steven Matz?" Alderson said. "Probably. At the moment. But we don't have any immediate plans."
With the bullpen having been fried by the weekend series with the Braves, it was not a surprise the Mets added an arm before Monday night's series opener against the Blue Jays.
The surprises were the identities of the two pitchers involved in the transaction.
Gee, who has a 40-37 career record, is 0-3 with a 5.90 ERA in eight games (seven starts) this season. He started spring training as the odd man out in the rotation before Zack Wheeler went down with Tommy John surgery.
But even then, Alderson was lukewarm about Gee's chances to open the season in the rotation and appeared to prefer prospect Rafael Montero. Gee won the job and made five starts before going on the disabled list with a strained groin after an outing on May 3 and losing his rotation spot to Noah Syndergaard.
Since his return on June 3, Gee has pitched sporadically and poorly, allowing 13 earned runs in 91/3 innings in two starts and one relief appearance.
Manager Terry Collins said Gee handled it "professionally. Just like you'd expect. Certainly admitted he hasn't pitched very well and said, 'Listen, I agree, I've got to go pitch and get my command back.' I'm sure inside he was worse than he was on the outside, but he handled it like you'd expect a pro to handle it."
Morris, 22, was already on the Mets' 40-man roster. In 24 games in the Florida State League, he was 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA and 13 saves. The Virgin Islands native struck out 46 batters in 32 innings.