Things went pretty well for the Mets on Opening Day as they beat the Cardinals, as the team scored nine runs, got ten strikeouts from Noah Syndergaard, and had Robert Gsellman, Anthony Swarzak, and Jeurys Familia throw a scoreless inning apiece. And of those appearances, Gsellman’s was the most impressive.
In just fourteen pitches, Gsellman threw nine strikes and struck out all three Cardinals hitters he faced. He got those results by throwing his sinker—or two-seam fastball, if you prefer—on nine of those pitches. And the pitch averaged 95.3 miles per hour, per Brooks Baseball. Back in his major league debut in 2016, Gsellman’s sinker averaged 94.35 miles per hour, and as he struggled last year, the pitch averaged 93.30.
Velocity isn’t everything, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to throw harder. And the pitch moved in this outing.
Strikeout #1: Paul DeJong
It was evident right from the start of Gsellman’s appearance that his sinker was working. The pitch itself didn’t get a ton of whiffs—as there was weak contact and sinkers that were taken for strikes—but it sure got one here from DeJong as the pitch moved inside on him.
Strikeout #2: Kolten Wong
Want an example of one of the sinker that Gsellman threw that was taken for a strike? This one froze Kolten Wong, as it came in looking like a ball inside and moved right over the insider corner of the plate instead. If Gsellman is throwing this pitch with this movement on a regular basis, it’s clearly capable of being a weapon against left- and right-handed hitters.
Strikeout #3: Yairo Muñoz
Finally, it wasn’t just the sinker that worked for Gsellman in his inning of work, even though he threw it the majority of the time. Here, he uses his curve, which obviously moves away from a right-handed hitter rather than toward him, to strike out Muñoz. Gsellman only threw two curves in this appearance—plus two sliders and one changeup—but it’s a nice pitch to have in his back pocket when he needs it.
It’s just one outing, sure, but this looks like the Gsellman we saw in his first stint in the big leagues: throwing a fast sinker that moves significantly and is hell on hitters. However his role develops, it would be a big win for the Mets if that’s the version of Gsellman they get this year.