Finally ready for some reinforcements, a beleaguered Mets pitching staff is set to undergo a much needed shakeup of the starting rotation. Steven Matz and Seth Lugo, both sidelined with elbow injuries, are each set to make one more rehab start before rejoining the pitching staff.
Once overflowing with talent, the Mets’ starting rotation has surprisingly become its greatest weakness. It wasn’t too long ago that the Mets, starting spring training with the highest of hopes, had six capable starters on their roster – three of which were past all-stars.
One month later, injuries to Matz and Lugo, as well as a devastating injury to Noah Syndergaard, left the previously heralded Mets starters a patchwork group of waiver adds and Triple A call-ups. The Mets have used eight starting pitchers so far this season (Tyler Pill will make nine Tuesday night), and three of them, Rafael Montero, Tommy Milone, and Adam Wilk, have an ERA over 10.00. Mets starters as a whole have an ERA of 4.85, good for 26th in Major League Baseball.
Despite all of this, things have mercifully started to look up for the Mets as of Sunday night. Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman are each coming off of their best starts of the year. Harvey pitched 6 innings of one-run ball, getting key strikeouts when he needed them. Gsellman went seven strong innings, featuring a nasty sinker inducing 12 ground ball outs along the way. This begs the question, what will happen to the starting rotation when Lugo and Matz return?
As of now, one spot certainly belongs to Steven Matz. The young lefty is coming off a rehab start in which he threw 73 pitches in five perfect innings. He’s got the talent to be a middle of the rotation starter at the very least, he’ll be ready to go. The more intriguing question is what happens to Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman?
Before Monday’s start, it was almost certain Gsellman would move to the bullpen, carrying a 7.27 ERA through his first seven starts. However, with Monday’s gem under his belt, Gsellman now has a strong case to get another start. Seth Lugo’s injury is also a little more concerning. Pitching with a partial tear in his UCL, Lugo hasn’t been as strong as Matz in his rehab starts. Lugo hasn’t faced big league hitters in meaningful games since the World Baseball Classic, it may be a lot to expect him to have the same command and arm strength right away.
Gsellman was the frontrunner all of spring training for the spot at the beginning of the year. At the tail end of 2016, he sported a 2.63 ERA in seven starts with an average of 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He was no doubt an integral part of the Mets eventual wild card berth.
As Matthew Cerrone points out on SNY’s MetsBlog , both Gsellman and Lugo have swing and miss pitches that could be extremely useful out of the pen. In the end, they will probably end up going back and forth. Not to mention, one of them will eventually have to fill in for Zack Wheeler once his innings limit is reached. With all of that being said, despite his monumental struggles in 2017 thus far, Robert Gsellman deserves one last shot at the fifth spot.
There’s no denying he’s struggled this season, but if he found something in Mondays start and can revert back to his 2016 success, Robert Gsellman can help turn things around in New York.