Thirty-two years ago, manager Davey Johnson saw one of his young starters throw a hard sinker and moved him into the bullpen. Roger McDowell because a key component in the 1986 club with that hard sinker inducing double plays.
Maybe Robert Gsellman can be the next coming of McDowell, without all the pranks that went along with the Mets all-time favorite. Maybe, he can slot in the eighth inning and form a tandem with Addison Reed to make these seven inning games.
They are going to need him. Even though Jeurys Familia said today he will pitch again this year, he might have meant his family softball game in November, because anything else he does this season, you have to think is bonus. So that bullpen formula that worked so well for the Mets the last few years is missing a key component.
They need an eighth inning guy in the worst way and you don’t have to be a member of SABR to understand that.
Gsellman will get his chance to be that setup man, since the Mets are on the verge of getting both Steven Matz and Seth Lugo back and fully functional, which means the rotation from hell – that was taking guys off the scrap heap – will start to resemble the staff everyone envisioned when spring training started back in February.
“Steven pitched extremely well [Sunday] based on the statistics, as you’re aware, as well as observations there,” general manager Sandy Alderson said of Matz’s perfect performance yesterday and also with Lugo, who pitched in Double-A, gave up three runs in six innings.
But with both Matz and Lugo on the mend, Gsellman will be the odd man out and ultimately, if everything goes according to Hoyle, can help the Mets later in the game and not just in the early innings.
“With a 5 ERA in the bullpen, a lot of people can help us there,” Alderson said.
Gsellman, who was put on notice today, responded with his best outing of the year. Seven innings with two runs, one earned, and three hits, five strikeouts and two walks. If he pitched like that all season, no one would have questioned his rotation spot.
“From the second inning on, there were 11 ground balls,” manager Terry Collins said. “That was the guy we saw last year.”
And probably the guy the Mets want in the bullpen. If Gsellman can come in and toss a key ground ball or two with runners on base, he will be an asset in the ‘pen.
Gsellman seems game for this new kind of challenge.
“I’ve had the attitude that you have to take the mound the same way,” Gsellman said. “I will do what they say. I just want to win.”
Maybe Gsellman in the bullpen will be the key to the 2017 season. With a surplus of starters coming in and no bullpen help in sight, converting the 23 year-old to the ‘pen may prove to be a very shrewd move.
And that’s not to say he will be there forever. Collins said he has a future as a starter and many quality pitchers made the transition like John Smoltz, Dennis Eckersley, and even Adam Wainwright.
Winning teams do that and the now it’s time to see if the Mets fall into that category.
It worked 32 years ago with Roger McDowell. Let’s see if it works now.