Throughout a Mets season that has seen inconsistent, at best, production out of the bullpen, they have had two stalwarts: Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. They have combined for a 2.32 ERA over 85.1 innings and offer the Mets the effectiveness and flexibility they sorely need.
Gsellman has been a workhorse out of the bullpen, pitching more than one inning in 11 of his 30 appearances, including two scoreless innings in Sunday's win against the Yankees. That outing brought his ERA for the year down to 2.95, with a 1.23 WHIP. Batters struggle to make quality contact against him, though his 3.9 walks per nine innings are higher than you'd like to see in a reliever who doesn't notch many strikeouts.
One thing working in Gsellman's favor is his age. At just 24 years old, the lanky right-hander can be expected to continue to develop in the coming seasons, adding strength to his frame and maturity to his approach. Already eager to take on high-leverage roles, he is one of the top candidates to fill Jeurys Familia's role as closer, in the short term due to injury, but also in the long term as Familia becomes a free agent this offseason, SNY's Andy Martino recently wrote.
While Gsellman is establishing himself as a solid bullpen option, Lugo is taking it a step further and pitching like a true ace.
Lugo's 1.77 ERA is paired with a 0.85 WHIP, and he is striking out more than a batter per inning while keeping walks to a minimum. He has allowed runs in just five of his 23 appearances all season and, like Gsellman, has shown the ability to pitch multiple innings, including two scoreless starts.
The Mets have lacked a legitimate swing man for several years and with uncertainty and injury in the rotation, Lugo's ability to step into that role is incredibly valuable. With just a few days notice, Lugo took Noah Syndergaard's start, matching up against Yankees ace Luis Severino and one of the best lineups in baseball. He did more than just accept that assignment, he dominated it, striking out eight and allowing just two hits in 6.0 innings.
With Syndergaard expected to miss more time, the Mets have a dilemma on their hands. Lugo struggled as a starter in 2017 and he's a potent weapon in the bullpen. But with the team teetering on the brink, they need to give the most innings to their best pitchers and right now, Lugo is one of them. He needs to be in the rotation for the foreseeable future, to see how the hard work he put in over the last year will play at that level.
In the meantime, a thin bullpen is a frustrating side effect of Lugo's well-deserved promotion, but Gsellman is proving himself capable of taking the helm. Whether providing a multi-inning bridge as he did on Sunday or locking down the save, he will give the Mets the jack-of-all-trades they need to keep their relief corps fresh and flexible in light of key departures.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring