The New York Mets spent a lot of time this winter looking at ways to improve their bullpen. Although the Mets only added Anthony Swarzak to the unit in free agency, the team had eyes on converting a starter to relief work to help the bullpen. Many analysts pegged Zack Wheeler for that role initially, but his struggles opened the door for Robert Gsellman to make the team as a reliever. Manager Mickey Callaway has put his faith in Gsellman early, summoning him in key spots over the Mets’ first six games, and the young right hander has rewarded his skipper with dominant performance.
Gsellman has appeared in four of the Mets’ six games and has been electric in all of them, tossing four shutout innings while striking out eight batters. The Mets have used Gsellman in almost every possible situation, including the seventh inning on Opening Day, a two inning appearance yesterday, and for one batter this afternoon. Gsellman has been a much more effective pitcher because he has been throwing a ton of strikes. In his outings this season, Gsellman has thrown 55 pitches, with 39 going for strikes, allowing him to get out in front of hitters and use his sinker to record key outs.
The Mets saw flashes of Gsellman’s big league potential in 2016, when he and Seth Lugo helped pitch the team to a wild card berth by patching up the rotation. Gsellman posted a 2.42 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 44.2 innings that year, but he had a rough season in 2017, pitching to a 5.19 ERA and showing a bad attitude when he told a reporter that he didn’t care that General Manager Sandy Alderson expected better results from him. The Mets’ new coaching staff appears to have gotten through to Gsellman, who has accepted his new relief role and appears to be thriving in it.
If Gsellman can continue to be effective out of the bullpen, this could be a huge boost for a unit that looked pretty solid to begin with. The Mets do have some depth in the back end of the bullpen, but they didn’t really have a guy who was capable of going multiple innings a couple of times a week. This is the kind of role that Chad Green, another converted starter, has excelled in for the Yankees. If Gsellman (along with Lugo, who is also a bullpen candidate once Jason Vargas returns from the disabled list) can fill that niche the Mets could field a truly lethal bullpen. Pairing that relief corps with a healthy and productive year from the starting rotation could be the key to a magical season for the Mets.