The Mets are in a position to play in the NL Wild Card game Wednesday night if they win today or if the Cardinals lose.
One of the reasons the Mets are in this position is because of Robert Gsellman.
Yes, it’s crazy to say, but it’s true. He received an opportunity to pitch for the Mets when Steven Matz was relegated to the disabled list and he made the most of it by pitching well. His performance kept the Mets afloat.
Gsellman improved to 4-2 since his call-up after the Mets’ 5-1 victory over the Phillies last night at Citizens Bank Park. Overall, he has a 2.42 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP in seven starts while striking out 42 hitters. Hitters have hit .258 against him.
His next appearance will either be in relief in the wild card game or as a starter in Game 1 of the NL Division Series.
The 23-year-old right-handed starter has been compared to Jacob deGrom. It’s not only because their hairs spread out, but they both have the same stuff. They don’t rely on velocity to throw. They have superb control. They work the corners, and they know how to get hitters out. They rely on guile to get out of jams.
He has not pitched like a rookie. He has pitched like he has been in the majors for a long time.
Last night was Gsellman’s best start of his brief career. He was dominating from the start. He finished the game with seven strikeouts and one walk in six innings. He worked fast, too. The thought was he would have 10 strikeouts, but he was three strikeouts short from it.
Baseball wonks will say it is not supposed to be easy for him. They will say starters go through struggles in their first few years of their career. Noah Syndergaard has gone through it this year.
Still, don’t tell Gsellman that. He believes in his ability, which is the key. Why shouldn’t he? He has the stuff to be an effective pitcher. He has proven that in his brief time here.
Eventually, hitters will make adjustments and he is going to have to do the same, too.
But Gsellman will not fret about it. He has been blessed with a good arm, and there’s no reason to think he will go through growing pains.
Baseball is simple. If a player has talent and he believes in himself, that’s all he needs to do well.
It seems like Gsellman has the right temperament based on what he has done here.
The sky is the limit for him.
The Mets have found a gem as a 13th round pick in the 2011 draft. It shouldn’t be surprising. The Mets front office has done a great job drafting pitchers in recent years. They know talent when they see one.
It doesn’t matter what round of the draft a pitcher is picked. It’s about developing pitchers, and the Mets do that as good as any team in the Major Leagues.
It’s easy for Mets manager Terry Collins to believe in Gsellman when his starter is pitching well every fifth day.
That’s why it’s not a crazy idea to have him start Game 1 of the NLDS at Chicago if the Mets get there. He is capable of handling a raucous playoff atmosphere. The moment won’t be too big for him just from watching him pitch.
Put it this way. The Mets have a better shot of beating the Cubs in Game 1 with Gsellman starting than Bartolo Colon.
With due respect to Colon, the Cubs will hit him well. He has not done well against a great lineup this year.
The Mets are better off going with a young arm, especially when a team like the Cubs never faced him before. Advantage will always go to a young talented pitcher when a team has not faced him before.
This would be good for Gsellman’s development. There’s no substitute for experience, so if he can get a feel of pitching in the playoffs right away, he would be better for it.
As the baseball axiom goes, you can never have enough pitching.
The Mets’ pitching depth is why the Mets have survived the season of injuries. It could have been devastating to lose Matt Harvey, Matz and deGrom for the year, but that hasn’t the been the case.
Gsellman has earned a spot in next year’s rotation. Considering no one knows if Wheeler or any of the Mets injured starters are ready to pitch next year, he can’t be counted out.
He has certainly given the Mets brain trust something to think about heading to next year.