New York Mets: Was Seth Lugo a viable starter?

Andres Chavez
Mar 27, 2017; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Seth Lugo (67) delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets insisted, before the season, that they didn’t want to convert Seth Lugo back into a starter because he was an excellent reliever, badly needed in the back of the bullpen. However, circumstances changed the team’s view once the 2020 shortened season was under way.

Because of the injury rash in the Mets’ rotation, coupled with Marcus Stroman’s decision to opt out, manager Luis Rojas, together with the front office, decided to go ahead and make Lugo a starter again, a role he last performed in 2018.

How did he fare in the role? Well, let’s go to the numbers. He pitched 26.1 innings as a starer and 10.1 as a reliever. In the former role, he had a 6.15 ERA and batters slashed .296/.350/.556 with a .376 wOBA against him. So, not particularly good.

As a reliever, the talented New York Mets’ righty fared much better, with a 2.61 ERA. Batters had a .211/.250/.342 line with a .257 wOBA. He was a better reliever.

However, much of this could be small sample noise. And you know what? If the Mets want to deploy him as a starter in 2021, he could be much better.

He was an effective pitcher for the Mets, last start nonwhitstanding

For starters, we can’t judge him by only 26.1 innings. Secondly, he has much more diverse stuff than when he started back in 2017 and 2018. In 2020, he used his four-seamer 33% of the time, his sinker 22%, his curveball 20%, his slider 15%, and his changeup 10%.

Additionally, he was very decent until his final start of the season, on the last day. If we exclude that game, in which he allowed six runs and didn’t get out of the second inning, Lugo would have finished with a much more palatable 4.32 ERA as a starter, with a 4.87 FIP and a 2.70 xFIP.

Excluding that last start in which the Mets lost to Wahsington, Lugo had a 6/35 BB/K ratio in 25 frames. That’s incredible, and represents a great foundation to work with if the Mets choose to make him a starter.

All in all, Lugo wasn’t as bad as the numbers suggest.