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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Mets had high hopes that Robert Gsellman would take a step forward in 2019, living up to some of the potential he flashed as a starter in 2016-2017. Unfortunately, in a refrain that is practically committed to memory by this point, Gsellman continued to struggle with consistency this season.
On an appearance by appearance basis, Gsellman would occasionally look dominant, but he was seemingly unable to get a string of quality appearances of any real length. His best stretch in 2019 was from April 30 to May 22, where he allowed no earned runs over 12 innings (in eight appearances). The next longest streak of clean innings came from July 26th to August 6, where four of his five appearances included at least one strikeout in seven and two-thirds innings.
But those are the outlier stretches of an otherwise lost season. But because of the sheer incompetence of the Mets’ bullpen overall this season, Gsellman was given plenty of chances to break out of his prolonged slump, but couldn’t really do so. His 52 appearances by August 11 was the most on the team for a relief pitcher, and even with missing the final seven weeks of the season, only came in fourth to Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Seth Lugo in appearances.
August 11 was the last appearance by Gsellman in 2019, as he was diagnosed with a partial lat tear that required surgery and ended his season.
It would be helpful if there was some statistic that could be pointed to as the reason for Gsellman’s struggles, but it appears that this is just sort of who he is at this point in his career. His upside is such that he deserves another shot in the Mets’ bullpen, but his reality is such that he probably shouldn’t get too many high leverage chances, at least early on.
The other abiding mystery with Gsellman is why some, including teammates like Jeff McNeil, still pronounce his name “Ji-sellman” instead of “Gi-sellman,” which is clearly how all broadcasters say it and, we can presume, they asked him how he pronounces it. The mystery of his consistency may be greater, but both are intriguing in their own ways.