Mets: Is Robert Gsellman a starter, reliever, or minor leaguer in 2021?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 08: Robert Gsellman #65 of the New York Mets pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the eighth inning at Citi Field on September 08, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 08: Robert Gsellman #65 of the New York Mets pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the eighth inning at Citi Field on September 08, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

What role will Robert Gsellman have with the New York Mets in 2021?

The New York Mets recently locked two familiar pitchers into a role with the team in 2021. Perennial starter Steven Matz was retained on a $5.2 million non-guaranteed deal. As part of the press release, New York also tendered longtime utility arm Robert Gsellman a contract.

Gsellman’s retention was a bit of a surprising move considering the pitcher’s lack of consistency and success in recent seasons. It was even more shocking considering that he was retained while fellow bullpen option Chasen Shreve, who had a particularly valuable role as a lefty reliever, was allowed to enter free agency.

While this was a curious decision, it seems as though the Mets have a plan in place for Gsellman moving forward. How might he be utilized by the Mets this season? Let’s take a look.

A Back of the Bullpen Option

Gsellman has started a total of 33 games over his five-year stint with the Mets. After averaging a sub-par 4.83 ERA over an average inning count of 5.03 innings per start, it appears as though his time as a full-time starter has ended. While Gsellman does provide value as a stretched arm who is capable of making occasional spot starts, his deployment in that role likely signals disaster as struck the rest of the rotation.

The 27-year-old has primarily been used as a long reliever during recent seasons. This has resulted in an additional 156 inning of work, a 4.50 ERA, and 134 strikeouts. While these numbers are not significantly better than his starting stats, a role in the bullpen does allow the team to control his innings and deploy him in low leverage situations.

After the recent addition of reliever Trevor May, the Mets find themselves with several appealing options in their bullpen. Edwin Diaz is expected to return as the closer after a solid 2020 campaign. Veterans Seth Lugo, Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, Daniel Zamora, and Miguel Castro, are also likely locks. Additionally, players such as the aforementioned Matz, Drew Smith, Brad Brach, and others will likely be considered for roster spots.

Gsellman’s best chance at making an impact on the major league roster will come through a role similar to past seasons. He can be used as a starter in the event a rotation member suffers an injury or requires extra rest. He can also be called upon to eat relief innings during blowouts.

Minor League Stash

I believe this option represents the best strategy for the Mets. Gsellman, who still has minor league options available, could be stashed in with the AAA club as an emergency Swiss Army Knife.

This would allow New York to keep his spot in the bullpen open for another player, while still keeping their longtime utility man as a potential major-league factor. This would also allow Gsellman to keep his arm ready by consistently facing professional hitters.

While a role with the Syracuse Mets is not as glamorous as the pitcher has become accustomed to in recent seasons, there is little doubt that flexibility would put the New York Mets in the best possible position for success.

In the event of an injury or other need, Gsellman could easily be called up to assume his normal role as a starter or relief option.


The days of viewing Gsellman as a legitimate difference-making talent seem to be over. While there was a time that a long-haired Gsellman seemed like a perfect complement to a rotation that already featured the famous locks of Noah Syndergaard and the pre-haircut hair of Jacob deGrom, his shine as a potential starter has all but faded.

However, particularly in this second role, Gsellman could carve out a role that would allow him to be of maximum benefit to his team.

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One thing is certain: the franchise’s front office would not have tendered a contract if they did not have a plan for the lifetime Met. Despite his recent struggles, expect Gsellman to continue to find a path toward major-league action. With any luck, this will yield positive results in a critical 2021 season.