Gilmartin hopes stellar changeup helps land bullpen role
Collins 'anxious' to get a look at lefty in action
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In the early days of camp, some pitches tend to catch more attention than others. Last year, Noah Syndergaard's curveball wowed all onlookers. Matt Harvey's heater always draws crowds.
This year, Sean Gilmartin's changeup is one of those pitches. A Rule 5 Draft selection last December, the left-handed Gilmartin is hoping his signature pitch will help him win a crowded back-end bullpen competition.
"It all stems off my fastball command," Gilmartin said of his changeup. "If my fastball is where I want it to be any given day, that just makes everything else that much better."
A former first-round Draft pick entering his fifth professional season, Gilmartin landed in the Twins' organization two winters ago following a four-year run with the Braves. He responded with a decent season, posting a 3.71 ERA over two levels.
It was enough for the Mets, impressed by Gilmartin's above-average strikeout-to-walk ratio, to take a $50,000 chance in the Rule 5 Draft. If Gilmartin makes the team, the Mets must keep him on their active roster or disabled list all season, or offer him back to the Twins for $25,000.
But it will not be easy for him to make the club. While the Mets have two spots open at the back end of their bullpen, Dillon Gee is a strong candidate to land one of them, while Rafael Montero could take the other. Veterans Buddy Carlyle and Scott Rice also have eyes on a spot, meaning Gilmartin -- whose 40-man roster status does give him an advantage -- will need to outperform his competition this spring.
"It'll be interesting to see what happens," Gilmartin said. "I'm looking forward to it. I'm always looking for a new challenge. I'm going to accept the challenge and be ready for whatever situation I'll be put into."
As a career starting pitcher, Gilmartin is somewhat wary of converting to the bullpen. But he believes his four-pitch mix can make him successful there, particularly if his changeup is tumbling as it should.
"Coming from the Braves, he looks like the prototypical Braves left-hander," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He works the outside corner to righties very well. He's got a very, very good changeup. He knows how to move the ball around, so we're anxious to see him get out there, and see whether or not he can fit in a different role."