Gee turning it up with Wheeler coming

NEW YORK -- Dillon Gee is aware of what's on the horizon, that the countdown to the arrival of top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler is in full effect in Flushing. He realizes there's little time left to prove himself before the team has to eventually decide whom Wheeler will replace in the rotation.

"We know," Gee said. "We know that he's coming up and all that, but it doesn't matter. Our job is still the same and try to do the best you can."

If Gee is going to be the one removed for Wheeler, he's certainly making sure it won't be easy for the Mets to come to that verdict.

Gee turned in his third straight great outing as he held the Cardinals to one run in 6 2/3 innings in the Mets' 5-1 win over St. Louis on Wednesday night. Gee has now given up just three earned runs in his past three starts, spanning 21 innings, and has been the winning pitcher in the past three Mets wins.

The starter has been able to pick it up lately even while battling flexor tendinitis in his right arm.

"After those outings in the first [part] of the year, I'm glad to finally go out there and give the team a chance to win and try and go deep into the game," Gee said.

Wheeler is expected to arrive on June 18, and while the team plans to use a six-man rotation when he initially arrives, someone will eventually have to be removed from the rotation. The top candidates for dismissal are Gee and Jeremy Hefner, and they're battling now to make a final impression.

One day after Hefner had a rough outing, Gee had one of his best outings of the year against the team with the best record in baseball. Gee lived dangerously at times, putting men on base in all but one inning, but he worked his way out of trouble each time. He got burned only on a solo shot by Allen Craig in the sixth that sliced the lead to 3-1. He struck out seven hitters on the night.

Before Wednesday's start, Mets manager Terry Collins said he believed Gee's recent improvement is correlated with Gee being further removed from offseason surgery to fix artery damage. As the season gets deeper, Collins sees Gee reverting back into what has made him a successful pitcher in the past. Gee started 2-6 before reeling off three straight wins.

"I thought he pitched very well. I think he's back, I really do," Collins said. "It's the Dillon Gee we've seen in the past and he's a strike thrower with all his pitches."

Early in Wednesday's game, Gee said his tendinitis flared up on him, which caused a cramping-like sensation. He said he has been dealing with this all year, but it's been worse as of late. He admitted he's not sure if he could have made this start on normal rest, but the pair of rainouts last week allowed him to make the start on six days' rest.

"Something we hopefully can manage," Gee said of the tendinitis. "Hopefully something that doesn't knock me out at all because feeling good right now and want to keep going out there every five days."