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Dillon Gee could provide solid innings at low cost for Tigers

The Mets, flush with young, talented starting pitching, recently designated Dillon Gee for assignment. For the Tigers, he could be an upgrade over their young, less-talented starting pitching.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers need starting pitching. Fans watching Shane Greene, Kyle Lobstein, Buck Farmer, and Kyle Ryan know it, and GM Dave Dombrowski evidently knows it too as the team has already scouted Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. While it's unlikely the team acquires a premier starting pitcher until the trade deadline nears, they do have less inspiring options in the meantime.

The Mets, a team overflowing with young, talented starting pitching, recently designated Dillon Gee for assignment. New York now has 10 days to attempt to trade Gee before placing him on waivers. The 29-year-old owns a 5.90 ERA on the season, but his FIP of 4.39 and xFIP of 4.22 are significantly better. For his career, the righty owns a 4.03 ERA and 4.24 FIP, so he isn't someone who consistently under-performs compared to his FIP.

Gee is striking out 5.67 batters per nine innings and walking 2.50 per nine, both slightly under career norms, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is right in line with his career average. With the Tigers' suddenly-good defense, these would be acceptable rates from a fifth starter.

Gee has been unlucky in his 40 innings this year. His home run rate is slightly above his career average and MLB averages. His opposing BABIP is .355, significantly higher than his career average of .286. Greatest of all, his left-on-base-percentage is over 10 percent lower than his career average.

Gee's ground ball percentage has been five percent higher than his career average. The Mets regularly employ Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy up the middle, so hypothetically switching to Jose Iglesias and Ian Kinsler would be a significant upgrade. Flores owns a surprisingly-high -- read: surprisingly not-negative -- 1.7 UZR/150, while Iglesias leads the majors at 21.4. Murphy, meanwhile, is at -6.9 compared to Kinsler's 7.4.

With a fWAR of 0.2, Gee has been barely better than replacement level. That's not surprising, given that the idea of "replacement-level" was made to describe players like Gee -- players who have been DFA'd.

The fact is, the Tigers should be looking for a replacement-level player. Kyle Ryan has a strikeout-to-walk ratio too close to 1:1 and has been lucky so far. Between Lobstein, Greene, Farmer, and Ryan, the Tigers have been throwing pitchers at the wall hoping one sticks. Gee, averaging 1.3 fWAR per 200 innings for his career, is no guarantee, but he argualy has a better chance than those four of providing solid innings.

If the Tigers trade for a more talented starter or recall Shane Greene from Toledo, they could always try Gee as an upgrade in the bullpen. The team is currently carrying three lefties, and Gee would seemingly be an upgrade over Ian Krol, who has allowed a .366 on-base percentage in a Tigers uniform.

Gee's name has been floated in trade rumors all season. If any team were willing to give up anything of value for him, the Mets would have already traded him. MLB Trade Rumors speculated that a team could trade for Gee if they picked up a portion of his $3.24 million salary and a throw-in prospect. The Mets would likely be happy to recover any of his salary.

It's possible that the Tigers and Mets could structure the deal with a player to be named later that depends on the number of innings Gee pitches for the team. Additionally, if Gee performs well for whoever acquires him, that team can control him in 2016, Gee's sixth year of arbitration.