Right-hander could find himself in bullpen when Matz, Lugo return from injury
By Danny Knobler
Special to MLB.com |
NEW YORK -- Robert Gsellman is proving again to the Mets he can succeed as a starter, just as they're preparing to move him out of the rotation.
No problem, manager Terry Collins said after Gsellman made his best start of the season in Monday's 4-2 Mets win over the Brewers. Gsellman's short-term future may well include a trip to the bullpen, but in the long term, he could be doing just what he did Monday afternoon.
"This kid's going to be a quality starter, in my opinion," Collins said, after Gsellman limited the Brewers to one earned run on three hits in seven innings.
Gsellman was a quality starter for the Mets late last season, going 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA in seven starts and one long-relief appearance. He wasn't nearly as good early this year, with a 7.27 ERA in his first seven starts, but Monday's solid outing was his second in a row.
His resurgence came after a quick trip to the bullpen, but it also comes just before what is likely to be a longer stint as a reliever. Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are both expected back from the disabled list soon, and Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said both will return as starters. Alderson also confirmed the obvious, which is that putting Matz and Lugo in the rotation would push Gsellman to the bullpen.
"We do think he can be a help in the bullpen," Alderson said.
Gsellman can help anywhere if he pitches the way he did Monday. With his sinker working the way it did last year and the way it didn't early this season, he got the Brewers to pound the ball into the ground.
"I thought I did well keeping the ball down," he said. "Ground balls. That's what I like. Easy outs."
Gsellman admitted he prefers starting to relieving -- "starting's a little more fun," he said -- but he also said he has no problem accepting whatever the Mets decide to do with him.
"It's still pitching," he said. "I enjoy pitching so much."
The Mets never questioned that, but they did wonder if the lack of success early this season ate into Gsellman's confidence. When he gave them six strong innings last week against the Padres, Collins pulled him from the game even though his pitch count was only at 84.
Collins explained then and again Monday that he made the move hoping a strong six innings would boost his young pitcher's confidence. The manager heard it from fans when the Padres came back and won that game against the Mets' bullpen.
"That's OK," the manager said about taking punches for his bullpen management. "I do my ab work every day so I can get through it."
The manager felt somewhat vindicated when Gsellman pitched so well Monday. He even left him in for the seventh inning, even though it meant allowing Gsellman to come to the plate in the sixth inning with two outs and the bases loaded. That decision actually worked out, too, because Brewers pitcher Matt Garza walked Gsellman to force in a run.
Gsellman will start again this weekend against the Pirates, because Alderson said both Matz and Lugo need another Minor League outing before returning. He could well get more starts later this season, as Collins pointed out, because the Mets could have other injuries and they also may eventually shut Zack Wheeler down because of innings limits.
Meanwhile, it's not as if the Mets are going to forget about Gsellman. Their bullpen could use the help.
"When the time comes, if he goes to the bullpen, he will give us a better bullpen," Collins said.
If he pitches the way he did Monday, there's no doubt about that.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.