Seth Lugo has been everything the New York Mets could ask for as a reliever over the last two seasons. Despite all of his bullpen’s success, Lugo has made it clear multiple times that he views himself as a starting pitcher. Though his desires are strong, his ultimate goal is to help the Mets win games any way he can.
Seth Lugo has come up with a new term to describe himself: Utility Pitcher.
Ultimately, Lugo wants to start again. In the meantime he’s embracing his versatility.
He can start, close, pitch in long relief, whatever. Throw him out there and he’s confident he’ll get the job done. pic.twitter.com/cuTtaTBzTh
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) February 12, 2020
Due to the current starting pitching depth, it is hard to see Lugo getting a chance to start this season. He is also coming off a terrific season and will likely be the closer if Edwin Diaz does not return to his dominant form. During his career, he has a 4.06 ERA in 31 career starts compared to a 2.52 ERA out of the bullpen. Like most pitchers, Lugo also sees a velocity and strikeout increase in the bullpen.
Caution With Lugo
During 2019, the Mets implemented a rest system to prevent future injury to Lugo’s partial UCL tear in his right arm. He got the same amount of days rest as innings pitched, and he rarely pitched on back to back days. Adam Wainwright and Masahiro Tanaka have been starters with UCL tears. Wainwright eventually had to get Tommy John Surgery, and Tanaka very rarely eclipses 100 pitches in a start.
The longer he pitches through the injury, the more likely it is to tear fully. Remaining as a utility man out of the bullpen is better for both Lugo’s and the Mets future. There is now enough depth in the bullpen where the Mets will not have to push Lugo as much as they did during the second half of 2019. No matter where he pitches in 2020, Lugo is going to be a valued member of a revamped Mets pitching staff.