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Robert Gsellman is likely to be the Mets’ fifth starter to begin the season

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Zack Wheeler is expected to start the year in extended spring training.

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at New York Mets Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Gsellman is expected to open the season in the fifth spot of the Mets’ starting rotation according to Matt Ehalt of the Bergen Record. Indications are that Zack Wheeler will stay in extended spring training when the regular season starts.

Gsellman started for the Mets against the Marlins yesterday, throwing two scoreless innings while allowing one walk, one hit, and striking out two batters in his first appearance of the spring.

In 44.2 innings pitched for the Mets in 2016, Gsellman had a 2.42 ERA and a 2.63 FIP. With a fastball that now sits in the mid-90s, Gsellman has become a key part of the Mets’ future plans.

Wheeler last pitched in 2014 when he had a 3.54 ERA in 185.1 innings. He gave management a scare in the beginning of camp when he experienced elbow tenderness after throwing one of his first bullpen sessions.

Keeping Wheeler in Port St. Lucie for extended spring training will allow him to keep working as a starter, which is his preference. It also will allow the Mets to limit his innings to avoid having to shut him down late in the season. Having a pitcher as talented as Wheeler who can step into the rotation if one of the five starters has an early season trip to the disabled list is immensely valuable to this rotation.

Before spring training began, Terry Collins indicated that the fifth rotation spot was an open competition between Wheeler, Gsellman, and Seth Lugo. This latest report means that Lugo will either begin the season in Las Vegas or in the Mets’ bullpen as a long reliever/spot starter.