In late 2016, pitching injuries pushed a previously unknown right-handed pitcher named Robert Gsellman into the rotation. The 22-year-old sported long hair, tattoos, a biting slider and a fearless attitude on the mound. In eight appearances, including seven starts, he was a revelation, pitching to a 2.42 ERA and a 2.63 FIP.
The following season, Gsellman was earmarked for the bullpen, but injuries again thrust him into the rotation for 22 starts, only the slider stopped biting and the good-but-not great fastball became hittable. Gsellman turned in a disappointing first full season in the big leagues with his ERA and FIP numbers nearly doubling.
In 2018, the Mets rotation stayed healthy and Gsellman was able to spend the entire year in the bullpen where he appeared in 68 games. He initially struggled to adjust, before hitting a groove as a reliable setup man. After the Mets fell out of contention and moved closer Jeurys Familia in a mid-season trade, Gsellman took over ninth inning duties with mixed results. In hindsight, he was no worse than the former All-Star closing for us now, but that’s not saying much.
This season, with a fairly healthy rotation and a beefed up bullpen (at least on paper) Gsellman was set to be a swing man – sometimes pitching long relief or setting up, but typically in the lower leverage middle innings. However, injuries and ineffectiveness of the primary relievers have resulted in inconsistent usage for the right handed.
At times, he’s been used four days in a row or not at all for several days. He’s pitched to just one batter or multiple innings. Maybe he’s not that dynamic and has struggled to get comfortable this year with such an undefined role. Perhaps, like the rest of the Mets pitchers heMs struggled with a bad framing catcher and a porous defense behind him. Or maybe that old slider continues to elude him.
Whatever the case, Gsellman has been very hittable this season with a 5.09 ERA in 46 innings over 39 appearances. His strikeouts are up, but so are his walks and hits. He hasn’t been the worst reliever on the team – Jeurys Familia holds that distinction by a long shot- but he’s not been as reliable as the team was hoping.
He’s still just 25 and under team control, but, at this point, it’s fair to ask, what is Gsellman? He doesn’t hold much trade value. As the Mets play out the string on what appears to be a lost season it would help to figure out if this kid has a future in the team’s bullpen and how we could best utilize him.