Mets: Three potential openers that could be utilized out of the bullpen
2) Right-handed pitcher Robert Gsellman
While Robert Gsellman’s role in the Mets bullpen in 2021 is still unknown after a rough season in 2020, Gsellman could provide value to the Mets as a potential opener this season. It’s highly doubtful that Manager Luis Rojas puts Gsellman in many high-leverage situations this season, which may provide him the opportunity to make his mark as an opener.
Gsellman has experience as both a starting pitcher and a reliever since entering the big leagues in 2016, which is one of the main reasons he was brought back to compete for a spot in the bullpen this season. His versatility can allow the Mets to be creative in how they potentially use him this summer especially in many non-traditional ways such as an opener.
Last season Gsellman posted an ugly 9.64 ERA in six appearances (four starts) before missing most of September with a fractured rib. However, Gsellman largely struggled with his command and elevated pitch counts after being promoted to the Mets starting rotation after necessity in August, which has all but eliminated any chance of the Mets using Gsellman in the rotation moving forward.
As a reliever, Gsellman has posted a career 4.50 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in comparison to a 4.83 ERA and 1.49 WHIP as a starting pitcher. Gsellman also has impressive numbers when facing a batter leading off an inning, as hitters are only hitting .235 against Gsellman with a 56/20 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which could further strengthen the argument of Gsellman becoming an opener.
Gsellman who is a notorious sinkerball pitcher has seen his ground ball rate drop significantly since entering the league back in 2016. Back in 2016, Gsellman’s groundball percentage was 57.5% and last season it was a lowly 41.5%. For Gsellman to be successful he has to keep the ball down and on the ground which is a glaring area in terms of turning things around in 2021.
It’s important for Gsellman to find his niche with the Mets this season and becoming an opener may be the best route for Gsellman to do that outside of a long-relief role. Gsellman is arbitration-eligible for the final time this upcoming offseason, and any further regression or lack of a role out of the bullpen could see him in another uniform next season.