Robert Gsellman impressed in a small sample for the New York Mets last season but could see his role expand in 2017.
When the 2016 season started, it seemed highly unlikely that Robert Gsellman would make an impact for the New York Mets. Struggles in AAA Las Vegas (5.73 ERA) made his major league debut less likely, but an injury ravaged rotation gave Gsellman his chance to shine on a big league diamond.
He didn’t just hold the fort down, he thrived, posting a 2.42 ERA over 44.2 innings. While the sample size for the big right hander wasn’t the largest, he could have made his case for a significant role in 2017.
The Mets are likely going to begin the year with their five aces ready to go, barring any setbacks from offseason rehab. However, Gsellman could break into the rotation, even with five other healthy starters.
During the Winter Meetings, GM Sandy Alderson told multiple reporters that Zack Wheeler could begin the season coming out of the bullpen. Given Jeurys Familia‘s potential suspension for his role in a domestic violence case, the Mets could use a power arm late in the game. Wheeler also hasn’t pitched since 2014, so a lesser role could be utilized to ease him back into the long season. This would leave a spot open in rotation that Gsellman could fill. While Alderson also hinted that Gsellman or Seth Lugo could feature out of the ‘pen, the rotation doesn’t seem set in stone thus far.
The Mets depth at starting pitching remains strong, even with Bartolo Colon signing with the rival Atlanta Braves. The Mets pitchers haven’t exhibited the ability to be durable, which could lead to a six man rotation. The same strategy was successfully employed in 2015, and is a very realistic possibility heading into next season. The extra rest for the staff could be beneficial, which is another reason to believe the Mets have plans for Gsellman to stick in the rotation.
The Mets still have some holes to fill, and have explored trading outfielders to bolster the bullpen. However, Gsellman’s impressive 2016 season boosted his trade value, leading some to believe he was expendable. Though according to ESPN’s Adam Rubin, Alderson reiterated at the Winter Meetings that he has no plans to move the young righty.
Alderson clearly values the 23 year old, and his willingness to commit to him could pay dividends. Many minor league scouting reports clocked Gsellman in the 92-94 mph range, though, he showcased an ability to keep his fastball consistent in the mid nineties, while also improving his slider for a better strikeout pitch (MLB 8.5 K/9 vs MiLB 6.5 K/9). His heavy sinker also generates plenty of ground balls, which makes his stuff play at the major league level.
He also exhibited an element of toughness and poise that not all rookies possess. He finished the year pitching with a partially torn back muscle which has since required offseason surgery. Not many rookies also come up in the middle of a playoff chase and finish the season with the success that the Los Angeles native did.
The potential for a six man rotation, coupled with Alderson’s firm stance to keep Gsellman a Met and Zack Wheeler’s possible move the ‘pen leads many to believe that he could be integral part of the team heading into 2017.