It’s been four years and a lot of beard growth since Robert Gsellman finished 2016 with a 2.42 ERA in seven starts and entered the 2017 season as the 17th ranked prospect in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus. This is firmly a positive vibe zone, so the nicest thing I can say about Gsellman’s shortened 2020 season is that it was not what you want.
In six total appearances, four of them as a starter, totaling 14 innings, Gsellman had a 9.44 ERA, 7.55 FIP, 2.143 WHIP, and eight walks to go with his nine strikeouts. Hopefully at this point you agree that those numbers are very much not what you want. Just for fun, if you’re feeling very big-brained, Gsellman’s -0.5 bWAR was the second worst out of all players to suit up for the Mets, ahead of only Steven Matz’s -1.0 bWAR.
Doing my best to keep things upbeat, I will point out that Gsellman essentially has nowhere to go but up, and improvements are always a good thing. It also seems worth pointing out that it wasn’t just performance that contributed to the disappointing 2020 season of Gsellman. To start the pandemic-shortened year, triceps soreness sidelined the righty, pushing his debut back all the way to August 8, the team’s 15th game of the season. To end the year, after giving up six runs on 73 pitches against the Orioles on September 8, Gsellman managed to break his rib while sending pitch 74 to the plate, ending his season after only one month’s worth of appearances.
So, with enough remembering the bad times, I suppose it’s time to look forward to what 2021 may have in store for Gsellman. To start, he will almost definitely not start for the Mets this year unless many things go wrong. With the added starting pitching depth in the form of Jordan Yamamoto and Joey Lucchesi, and the new-for-2021 rotation mainstays of Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker, and eventually, Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard, it’s apparent that Gsellman is pretty far down the staff’s totem pole, which may end up being a good thing. One glaring issue with Gsellman’s 2020 is that he did so badly in the starts he made that he never really got any opportunity to be stretched out, thus dooming himself to a never-ending cycle of short starts and bad performances.
At this point, you’re probably screaming at your screen of choice, demanding to know how Gsellman is going to perform in 2021. Unfortunately, my skills begin and end at getting cyberbullied by starting pitchers, so I don’t have a definitive answer. The good news is that I can definitely give you a general answer that may or may not be right. With less success riding on his performance and his future almost guaranteed to be in the Mets’ bullpen, maybe 2021 will finally be the positive year that we, as fans, have been hoping for since Opening Day 2017.