With Jeurys Familia on the disabled list, the New York Mets need to use Robert Gsellman as the closer to get their season back on track.
As the season has gone on for the New York Mets, Robert Gsellman has been one of the biggest surprises on the team as he went from a starter candidate to being a critical reliever in high-leverage situations. Now, Gsellman needs to go from the seventh or eighth inning guy to becoming the team’s closer.
Since Jeurys Familia is now on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, Mickey Callaway has to find someone to take over the closer role and Gsellman should be that player. On Sunday night, he used Anthony Swarzak to preserve a 2-0 lead in the ninth while Gsellman shut out the Yankees in the seventh and eighth inning.
In this age of baseball, teams try to get creative with finding a closer if they don’t have one of the elite options in the game like a Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, etc. In this case, the choice should be simple for the coaching staff based on how Gsellman has dominated in games and how he wants the ball in these situations.
On Sunday night, Gsellman threw a 1-2-3 seventh inning and then came out for the eighth after he told Callaway that he wanted the ball. Here is what the manager said about that moment, courtesy of Zach Braziller of The New York Post:
“When a guy comes down the steps and says, ‘I got it,’ you’ve got to let him have it,” the manager said. “He wanted it and he went out there and got the job done.”
One of the things that makes a great closer is the ability to want the baseball in any given situation and Gsellman has shown that this season. The 24-year-old right-hander has 38 strikeouts to 17 walks in 30 games. While the walk total might be a bit high, he has only walked two batters or more in an outing twice since May 1.
This season, Gsellman has not had one team hit his fastball for a base hit. In fact, his go-to pitch has been his slider. Fourteen of his 38 strikeouts have come on that pitch and opposing hitters have a batting average against of .111. Both of these stats are courtesy of Brooks Baseball.
By going into the bullpen, Gsellman has had to use more of the slider this season (19.9 percent) and it has helped his fastball, as the average velocity has gone up from 92.7 miles-per-hour a year ago to 93.4 mph this season. Both numbers are courtesy of FanGraphs.
In a way, using Gsellman in the short-term as the closer could help in the long-term as well. Since Familia is a free agent at the end of the year, the Mets will need to find a closer this winter. If they think Gsellman can do the job, then it will save them money that they can use at another position to improve the team. As for the short term, it would give the New York Mets another closer option on days when Familia couldn’t pitch.
If the Mets want to have somewhat of a sure thing in the ninth inning, they should hand the ball to Gsellman for the time being while Swarzak takes over the eighth inning duties. He may have been seen as a starter option heading into the year, but now he can be one of the key relievers for the organization both now and in the future.