New York Mets manager Luis Rojas confirmed on Monday that reliever Robert Gsellman will be apart of the team’s bullpen for the 2021 regular season despite major struggles as of late.
The 27-year-old, who began his MLB career as a starter, has spent the last three seasons as a middle reliever in Queens, posting a 4.45 ERA over 120 appearances between 2018-2019.
Last season saw Gsellman allow 15 earned runs in just 14 innings pitched over six appearances while dealing with injury issues. He missed the start of the season due to a triceps injury before a fractured rib ended his campaign early.
So what has been the root of his issues?
“An identity problem maybe,” Rojas said. “This is a young pitcher who has a really good arm. He was originally a sinker/slider guy coming into the big leagues and at some point, he tried to become a north-south guy. The identity of being who he needs to be is where he’s been stuck… He has to stick to his strengths and his stuff is there.”
While Rojas continuously implored that Gsellman’s stuff looked good, the righty didn’t fare much better this spring, allowing five runs in eight innings of work over five appearances. But his ability to eat up innings gave him an advantage in his pursuit of bolstering down a roster spot.
“Multiple innings out of the pen works for us knowing we have two lefty starters [David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi],” Rojas said. “Having a guy who can go multiple innings as a righty… and knowing G’s stuff is there… that could help us win some games. Having that balance of lefties and righties that can go multiple innings went into this decision.”
Gsellman’s presence in the Mets bullpen provides yet another question mark to a group that already has its fair amount of uncertainties. That includes the velocity issues surrounding Dellin Betances, the viability of Jeurys Familia as a late-inning option, how effective Seth Lugo can be upon his return from elbow surgery, and if closer Edwin Diaz can carry over his promising form from the end of the 2020 season.
“I think we have a lot of guys that can do different things in different parts of the game,” Rojas said. “We have guys that can come in and give multiple innings or a guy that can come in and stop the bleeding.”
All but one of those relievers, Aaron Loup, are right-handers, which means there should be some changes ahead.
“Maybe having a second lefty is something we’ve taken into consideration, but guys that are righties in the bullpen have been successful against lefties,” Rojas said. “At some point, we may have some additions.”
The most feasible option when it comes to a southpaw addition is flexing Joey Lucchesi — currently slotted as the team’s No. 5 starter — to the bullpen after Carlos Carrasco returns from the injured list after tearing his hamstring.
His targeted return is in early-May, though Rojas said that Carrasco is progressing “really, really well” as he continues to throw. The organization has labeled him on a “week-to-week” basis.