Maybe somewhere in Robert Gsellman’s wildest dreams, the former starting pitcher turned reliever thought he would have a good record for the Mets going into the All-Star break.
But even Gsellman was shocked that he leads his club in wins (6) as the Mets open the second half in the Bronx with a three-game series against the Yankees on Friday.
“Who would think that,” said Gsellman, who is 6-2 with four saves and a 4.31 ERA this season.
Mets starters Jacob deGrom, who pitched in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, and Noah Syndergaard are tied for second with five wins.
“You know with [a pitcher like] Jake, I don’t know how I have more wins than he does,” Gsellman said. “ . . . I guess, you know, it’s coming in at the right time. That’s just how things happen.”
Things didn’t necessarily go the way Gsellman planned in 2017 during a disappointing 8-7 season with a 5.19 ERA in 25 games, including 22 starts. Last August, then-general manager Sandy Alderson said Gsellman needed to pitch better. Gsellman responded: “I don’t really care.” Gsellman later apologized to Alderson for his remarks.
The Mets entered this season with a strong starting rotation, so Gsellman began the year in the bullpen for the first time since his first two seasons of professional baseball in 2011 and 2012 when he had 12 relief appearances in 18 games. He excelled in his new role this season with a 5-1 record and a 3.38 ERA in his first 26 appearances through May. His teammates jokingly called him a “vulture” for swooping in to get wins out of the bullpen. Gsellman posted a tweet on April 25 that read: “Is that a Win? Don’t mind me.....#WinVulture.”
However, the Mets’ 13th-round pick in the 2011 draft struggled in June with an 0-1 record and 6.59 ERA. Gsellman allowed 10 runs and 13 hits in 13 ⅔ innings that month. Still, he never doubted himself.
“My confidence is always there,” Gsellman said. “It’s just keeping my body right, keeping my hand on top of the baseball, and making the right pitches.”
Gsellman could be on the road back to his early-season form with a 1-0 record and a 4.50 ERA in July. He is tied for third among all MLB relievers with six wins, is sixth in the majors with 54 1/3 innings pitched, and tied for 11th in the National League with 50 strikeouts. What has been the key for the righthander?
“Just getting back on top of the ball,” Gsellman said. “Getting the sink back on the ball, getting it down, and just executing pitches.”
Gsellman added he was going to “relax and enjoy the time off” during the All-Star break.
The Mets are 39-55 and in last place in the NL East, 13 and a half games behind the division-leading Phillies.
“I don’t know about any particular goals,” Gsellman said, “but we just want to win as a team and keep playing to get ourselves better.
“We’re just focused on getting better every day. We just come in trying to win,” said Gsellman, who turned 25 on Wednesday. “Things haven’t been going our way, but we still come in and battle.”
Gsellman follows the example of his first-year manager Mickey Callaway.
“He just comes in with the same attitude every day,” Gsellman said. “That attitude is getting better and pushing each other to try and get a win.”
Something Gsellman knows a thing or two about.