Robert Gsellman’s roster spot on the 2020 New York Mets isn’t as safe as it was in recent seasons.
Baseball teams should be built to win. In which case, it’s only a small concern to see the New York Mets with a roster that includes only a small number of pitchers with minor league options.
The starting rotation does have three guys with minor league options left—Steven Matz, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard. However, if any of them are demoted, the team is in bigger trouble than having some roster flexibility to promote a fresh arm to the big league roster.
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It is possible we see the Mets open the year with Matz in the minors, although the more likely scenario is we see them make him available out of the bullpen. The lone lefty starter expected to crack the Opening Day roster may slot in as the team’s fifth starter and an early option southpaw out of the bullpen in the first two weeks of the year.
Looking further down the line, the Mets may run into some problems. It’s not uncommon to see MLB teams use one of their bullpen spots to shuttle relievers back and forth from Triple-A. While we can all agree we would prefer to never see these guys ever again, sometimes an overused bullpen could use a warm body.
This leads us back to Gsellman and his remaining options.
Even if Luis Rojas and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner handle the relievers well, a long stretch without a day off may result in a temporary demotion for Gsellman. I can’t see them using the option on Lugo because he’s just that important. For Diaz, they would only send him to Syracuse if things are going haywire again.
After a promising start to his career in 2016, Gsellman hasn’t looked nearly as good in the three years since. He had a stretch in 2018 when he looked like a nice bullpen weapon. Unfortunately, his overall numbers were more average than anything.
Last year, Gsellman was even worse. Although he’s not in the same category as some other recent Mets relievers, he’s not the dangerous multi-inning threat I convinced myself he was back in 2018. It pains me to say this because at one point I thought he had closer potential: Gsellman is nothing special.
If the Mets do need a fresh arm at some point in 2020, they have other directions they can go. A phantom injury could always do the trick. Let’s say Jeurys Familia isn’t pitching so well and could use a week and a half off. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him get diagnosed with dead-arm syndrome. The Mets could then swap him for someone else.
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Managing a baseball team requires more than just adding the best players to the roster. In 2020, breaking a few hearts with a possible unwarranted demotion is one event we may see with Gsellman as the first in line to book a bus ticket to Syracuse.