Robert Gsellman will take the mound tonight as a starting pitcher for the first time since the 2017 season. Luis Rojas announced prior to tonight’s game that Gsellman will get the start against the Nationals in place of the injured Michael Wacha, and he will be stretched out in an effort to join the team’s rotation going forward.
Gsellman originally debuted for the Mets as a starting pitcher and was a valuable contributor to the team’s 2016 Wild Card berth after most of their rotation stalwarts went down with injuries. The team is electing to go with Gsellman over Seth Lugo, who also debuted as a starter around the same time as Gsellman but has become a pivotal part of the team’s bullpen and has established himself as one of the game’s elite relievers over the last two seasons.
Gsellman last started a game for the Mets on September 27, 2017 against the Braves, where he earned a victory with six innings of one-run ball. After a strong 2016 showing, he struggled to the tune of a 5.19 ERA and 4.89 FIP in 2017, which included 22 starts and three relief outings. Starting in 2018, the Mets began using the right-hander exclusively out of the pen, and he posted a 4.28 ERA, a 3.95 FIP, a 1.30 WHIP, and a -0.2 bWAR in 80.0 innings. He followed that up with a pedestrian 4.66 ERA, a 4.12 FIP, a 1.37 WHIP, and a 0.0 bWAR in 2019. He missed the start of this season with right triceps tendinitis, and made his debut on August 8 with two strikeouts in a scoreless frame against the Marlins.
The decision to start Gsellman is an interesting one. He transition to the pen hasn’t been quite as smooth as Lugo’s, which makes the decision to try him out in the rotation a bit easier. Rojas stated prior to the game that he will be able to throw 45-60 pitches, which makes it more like a bullpen game than anything. He will likely need a few more starts before he can throw around 80-100 pitches. There is no timetable for Wacha’s return, but with Marcus Stroman opting out earlier this week, there is one spot left in the rotation. The team went with Gsellman over some more unproven options like Franklyn Kilome and Thomas Szapucki or some less exciting options like Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt.