ATLANTA -- Dillon Gee has always carved out a tentative existence in the major leagues.
He belongs to a disposable class of pitchers, righthanded and unremarkable, especially when judged exclusively on his stuff. He neither captures imaginations like Matt Harvey nor inspires lofty comparisons like Zack Wheeler.
Yet, after finding himself nearly drummed out of the Mets' starting rotation, Gee has emerged as its undisputed ironman. And three months after pulling his season out of a tailspin, he has used every appearance to tighten his grip on a spot for next season.
"Obviously, I want to be in the rotation," said Gee, who lifted the Mets to Wednesday's 5-2 victory over the Braves. "I think I've done well enough to get that shot. Hopefully, what I've done is just show that I can bounce back."
In his team-leading 28th start, Gee smothered the explosive Braves, holding them to one run in seven innings. Meanwhile, the Mets chased Kameron Loe after tagging him for five runs and 11 hits in just 41/3 innings. Andrew Brown bashed a two-run homer and Lucas Duda added a solo shot to help Gee to a 5-0 cushion.
The pitcher took care of the rest, allowing a sacrifice fly in the fifth and blanking the Braves the rest of the way. LaTroy Hawkins worked a scoreless ninth to nail down his seventh save and preserve a victory for Gee, who improved to 11-9 while lowering his ERA to 3.53.
"Dillon really had to prove to himself that he was healthy," manager Terry Collins said.
Gee's season was cut short last year when he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot near his right shoulder. When he returned, his velocity dipped and his command suffered. His troubles in spring training bled into the regular season.
Through his first 10 starts, Gee went 2-6 with a 6.34 ERA. To make matters worse, he battled through soreness in his forearm, even as it was clear that his job was in danger.
Gee always has endured a tenuous tenure with the Mets. Even in 2011, when he wound up sticking around, the righthander recalled his reality. Said Gee: "Pretty much every time I pitched I had my bags packed, ready to go back to Triple-A, and I ended up staying. So, I'm used to it."
Even as he struggled to begin the season, he believed he could turn things around if given a chance. Banking on that opportunity was a different matter, and as he entered his May 30 start against the Yankees, Gee knew the outcome would determine his immediate future.
At Yankee Stadium, he responded by allowing one run in 71/3 innings and striking out 12. The performance quelled rumblings of a demotion. He hasn't looked back since, going 9-5 with a 2.40 ERA.
As attrition has ravaged the rest of the starting rotation, Gee has charged toward the team lead in innings, putting himself on pace to pass Harvey. Perhaps most importantly, Gee's run of consistency has solidified his standing with the organization.
Earlier this week on WFAN, general manager Sandy Alderson boasted about the team's pitching depth, which might be tested next season if Harvey opts for elbow surgery. Alderson said Gee's emergence as one of the reasons to believe that the Mets still can compete.
The GM shared a conversation he had with Gee after his previous start against the Nationals. "Remember what I told you two months ago: The other guys are getting the headlines, and you're getting the wins," Alderson recalled. "And that's exactly what's continued."
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