The Mets are set to give Robert Gsellman the start for tonight’s game, but it’s more than just an “opener” assignment for the righty, it seems. Manager Luis Rojas said in an appearance on WFAN 660 AM today that Gsellman will be stretched out to work as a starter moving forward (Twitter links via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo). The plan is for him to pitch in the rotation for the remainder of the year.
The Mets were bullish on their rotation depth after signing Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha over the winter, but the lack of options beyond their top six starters has become a glaring deficiency in 2020. Noah Syndergaard will miss the entire season due to Tommy John surgery, while Marcus Stroman just opted out of the 2020 season earlier this week, citing health-and-safety uncertainties while playing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Wacha, meanwhile, is on the injured list with another bout of shoulder troubles.
Despite the fact that Jacob deGrom is dominating (as usual) and former first-round pick David Peterson has impressed in his first three MLB outings, Mets starters have the sixth-worst earned run average (5.18) in all of baseball. Some of that is due to a porous defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating — Mets’ starters have a much-better 4.14 FIP — but the team simply hasn’t gotten much help from Porcello, Wacha or Steven Matz to date.
The 27-year-old Gsellman is no stranger to starting games. He came up through the system as a starter and made 29 starts for the Mets across his first two big league seasons. He’s been better as a reliever — 4.60 ERA, 4.31 FIP in the rotation vs. 4.25 ERA, 3.97 FIP out of the ’pen — but the Mets are thin on alternatives at this point. Right-hander Walker Lockett could’ve been an alternative, but it seems he’ll continue in a long relief role for now. It’s possible that Lockett will piggyback off Gsellman’s starts early in the transition. Gsellman will be limited to about 45 pitches tonight, per DiComo.
Over at their alternate training site in Brooklyn, the Mets have right-handers Erasmo Ramirez, Corey Oswalt, Ariel Jurado and Yefry Ramirez as options with big league experience. Of that bunch, only Oswalt and Jurado are on the 40-man roster.
In parts of five big league seasons, Gsellman has tallied 309 innings of 4.43 ERA ball (4.14 FIP) with averages of 7.5 strikeouts, 3.2 walks and 0.96 home runs per nine innings pitched. He’s been clobbered when facing opponents a third time in a game (.329/.393/.537), so the Mets could look to limit him to two trips through the order more often than not even when he’s sufficiently stretched out.