It is completely understandable that a major league hurler wants to pitch the most possible innings. He would be in games for longer, and his future earnings would be more as a starter than as a reliever. However, who can blame the New York Mets for wanting to leave Seth Lugo in the bullpen?
He is such a dominant reliever that it is fair to question whether Lugo is among the top five in MLB. He is that good, and he is that important to what the New York Mets are trying to achieve.
After Zack Wheeler departed to the Philadelphia Phillies via free agency (and even before that) Lugo expressed his desire to be a starter and compete for a spot in the Mets’ rotation. However, shortly after that, the Mets inked starters Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello, and his dreams vanished.
But Lugo is far more valuable to the Mets coming in from the bullpen and fighting any fires that need to be put out.
During his career, he has been an adequate starter. In 168.1 innings, he has allowed 175 hits with 45 walks and 138 strikeouts. His ERA is 4.06, his WHIP is 1.307 and he registers a 7.4 K/9 mark.
Those aren’t bad numbers. However, look at his performance as a reliever: in 178.1, he has conceded 125 hits and 45 walks, with 199 strikeouts, a 2.52 ERA, 0.953 WHIP and 10.0 K/9.
Lugo has a very diverse stuff for a reliever. That’s probably why he thinks he can make it as a starter. And maybe he is right.
He relies on a four-seamer (34.6%) curve (23.7%) sinker (22.2%) slider (13%) and changeup (6.5%) to retire hitters. The fastball was actually the Mets’ best pitch in 2019, and he can get outs with nearly all of his repertoire.
The Mets’ bullpen ace
In 2019, a season in which several relievers combined to ruin the Mets’ season, Lugo stood out. He had a 2.70 ERA with a 2.70 FIP in 80.0 innings. His K/9 was an excellent 11.70 and his BB/9 a minuscule 1.80. He had 2.2 fWAR as a reliever, more than most starters.
The Mets’ bullpen figures to improve in 2020. There is almost no way that Edwin Diaz (5.59 ERA) can be that bad again, as he had very bad luck on HR/FB. His poor performance wasn’t all terrible fortune, though, and he had more than his share of command issues, but he should be better. Dellin Betances is now a member of the Mets, so that helps matters, too.
However, it will be Seth Lugo, once again, the one who will be tasked with anchoring the New York Mets’ bullpen.