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2017 Mets Season Review: Robert Gsellman didn’t live up to high expectations

Gsellman was one of many pitchers who struggled mightily in 2017.

MLB: New York Mets at Chicago Cubs Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Like most of his fellow pitchers who played for the Mets in 2017, Robert Gsellman had a very bad year. Having entered the season as a highly-rated prospect in most corners coming off an awfully impressive major league debut last year, Gsellman looked like anything but a future star. He finished the season with a 5.19 ERA and 4.89 FIP in 119.2 innings in the big leagues and spent a brief amount of time in the minors.

Of the stats that Gsellman had posted in 44.2 innings with the Mets back in 2016, the only one that looked as good or better in 2017 was his walk rate. Having issued free passes to 8.1 percent of opposing batters in 2016, Gsellman walked 7.7 percent in 2017. And hey, that’s an improvement, but again, it was the only one. His strikeout rate dropped from 22.7 percent to 14.4 percent, and his home run rate increased from 0.20 per nine innings to 1.28, though the jump in home runs across baseball can certainly be blamed for some part of the latter.

The lack of strikeouts wasn’t a fluke, either. Gsellman’s swinging strike rate—usually a pretty good indicator of strikeouts to come—was just 7.4 percent this year, down from 9.1 percent the previous season. And his velocity was down from the first year to the next, with his four-seam fastball having averaged 94.65 miles per hour previously and 93.70 miles per hour in the second season, per Brooks Baseball. As far as pitch usage went, not much really changed. Gsellman threw his four- and two-seam fastballs nearly exactly as often as he had in 2016, and he threw slightly more curveballs and changeups and slightly fewer sliders.

Over the course of his season, Gsellman only made two starts in which he didn’t allow any earned runs. In one of them, he allowed one unearned run, but both starts took place against the Braves in Atlanta. The earlier of the two came on June 10, and that was the one in which he went six-and-two-thirds innings, struck out four, walked two, and didn’t allow any runs. The other was on September 17, a strong start in which Gsellman threw seven innings, struck out three, didn’t walk anyone, and gave up just that one unearned run. But he made seven starts in which he gave up six runs or more.

Gsellman made three appearances out of the bullpen, as well, though that tiny sample wasn’t nearly enough to make any conclusions about whether or not he could succeed in that capacity. But right now, looking ahead to 2018, Gsellman is just one of several pitchers about whom the Mets can’t really be certain. It’s conceivable that he could be a contributor on a contending team, but the Mets probably need to fill their roster with surer things if they intend to compete next season.