Sometimes the New York Mets have a player come along and you see a world of talent. Can’t miss! And you see some spark…you see something special. And then, it all falls apart. They are the forgotten stepchild. No longer the headliner. They are somewhere on the end of the bench perhaps thinking about the glory that was once bestowed upon but now in the shadows.
Sometimes it wasn’t meant to be and the player, for some reason, their flame fizzles out and they just fail. But then there are some players, you just have to wonder, did they REALLY fail…or did the Mets fail them?
This comes to my mind as I watch Robert Gsellman, the once promising starting pitcher, who has become a forgotten man, and has, for the most part, been relegated to what used to be called “mop up duty” where a pitcher only comes in when the team is down big and there is no chance of coming back. While that term seems to be resisted today, he is the pitcher on the roster that is not used in “high leverage situations” and seemingly only when the Mets are behind. What made him deserve this role?
When thinking about it, I came up with three players spanning the Mets 60 seasons, who are judged by some as failures, but whose demise could also be blamed squarely on the Mets handling or, rather mishandling, of their once-promising careers.
New York Mets pitcher Robert Gsellman
Gsellman was the Mets 13th round pick in the 2011 Major League drafter. He quickly impressed, moving up the minor league ladder.
After being tabbed the Sterling Organization Pitcher of the Year in 2015, Gsellman came up to the Mets in 2016 when injury hit the Fab Five of Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom, Wheeler, and Matz. He fit right in sporting the hairstyle of Syndergaard and deGrom but, more importantly, he fit right in with their pitching prowess. He went 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA and 42 K’s in 44 innings down the stretch drive.
With the return of the members of the rotation, Gsellman was used mostly as a spot starter in 2017, getting 22 starts and turning out a record of 8-7. However, a few bad outings when he got pummeled, inflated his ERA to 5.19 and he was also victimized by shoddy fielding during many outings.
Gsellman’s unflappable demeanor helped the Mets hierarchy to make the decision to have one of their most promising starting pitchers move to the bullpen full-time. He appeared to embrace the role and made 68 appearances in 2018. He finished with a record of 6-3 and pitched better than his 4.28 ERA would indicate.
In 2019, Gsellman was again counted on to pitch on short notice. And after 52 appearances, he suffered a torn right late muscle midway through the season which shelved him for the rest of the campaign. Then during the shortened 2020 season, he began the campaign with a right arm soreness and then suffered a fractured rib in a September appearance. With only six appearances, he finished up with a horrifying 9.64 ERA over 14 innings pitched.
Gsellman has talent. He has had success throughout his tenure in the Mets organization. So what has happened to him? Why does management not think more highly of him? He has done everything the team has asked of him. Start…relieve…spot start…long relief…short relief.
Being a relief pitcher in an era where you pitch only a single inning can be daunting. If you have a bad outing, it can actually punctuate your entire season because of what it can do to your ERA.
He is still with the club. He still has a uniform that says “Mets” on it. But why does Gsellman appear to be the 25th man on the roster? It clearly seems to be that the Mets have not treated Gsellman the same way that they treated…say…Matt Harvey. Perhaps if they treated Gsellman the same way they treated Harvey, giving him his spot in the rotation without question and just leave him alone, he would be more consistently successful?
With Gsellman, there is still an opportunity to judge if he should be considered a failure or the Mets have failed him as an organization. But what about the other two?