Mets 2017 Season Preview: Who will earn the fifth starter slot?
Emmanuel Pepis, Staff Writer
No clear cut favorite considering Wheeler injury, but all three will most likely see time in this role.
When evaluating who will earn the fifth starting spot, could “all of the above” be an option? Between Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo I think we’ll see all three in that spot during some point of the season.
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Wheeler is the most talented of the trio. If all parts were equal then he would be the heavy favorite for the spot. However, a slow recovery from Tommy John and an innings cap in play makes Wheeler less of an option at least at the start of the season. If all goes right, then he may be inserted into the rotation toward the latter part of the year.
That leaves the two guys who emerged last season in Lugo and Gsellman. There are different things to like about both. Lugo isn’t going to blow people away, but his numbers show that he is harder to hit as the game goes along. He also had a nice Spring Training debut, which is going to be an audition for him every time out. Lugo followed that up by coasting through the Marlins’ probable Opening Day lineup on Tuesday.
It’s the same for Gsellman who can rack up the strikeouts more consistently than Lugo. What Gsellman offers more consistently are two things: the ability to keep the ball in the park and being more of a ground ball pitcher. Gsellman’s ground ball percentage was 54.2 compared to Lugo who sat at 40.5.
Both of these pitchers will get a fair shake. Whoever wins the job out of spring, I would expect them to keep it for at least the first two months of the season while Wheeler’s innings are kept as low as possible. By the All-Star break, this whole scenario may be re-evaluated depending on Wheeler’s progress and the job winner’s performance.
My final answer: Gsellman takes the job out of spring due to the innings limit on Wheeler and his propensity for getting a double play ball or a strikeout more often than Lugo in different situations.