Walker Strikes Out a Dozen in Mets 3-2 Win Over Cubs

Taijuan Walker has been the steal of the offseason for the New York Mets and had another fantastic start. He struck out 12 to take a second straight game from the Chicago Cubs by a score of 3-2. Walker’s previous season-high was nine strikeouts, and he blew right past that for his sixth victory of the season.

Early in his start, Walker did not look like he had the best command of his pitches. Walker immediately had a first and second, then bases-loaded jam in the first inning but struck out three to survive the inning. From that point, Walker slowly started to get himself in a grove and found command of all pitches. His best weapon was his two-seam fastball which drew flashbacks to Bartolo Colon. Walker dominated for seven innings, a dozen strikeouts, and just two runs allowed, which came on a Javier Baez homer.

Thank You Willie

Walker retired the last 12 batters he faced, then passed the baton over to Seth Lugo. He recorded his first two-inning save since last August by working a perfect eighth and an extremely hectic ninth. Lugo received help from Cubs’ third base coach Willie Harris who crazily sent Jake Marisnick to get thrown out at home plate on Eric Sogard‘s double. This game was a prime example of how dangerous the Mets pitching staff has become. Their number three starter led their way while their second closer came into shut the door.

The Mets’ offense was not at their best tonight. They had plenty of chances to tack on to the lead throughout the game but went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left ten on base. Pete Alonso carried the load on offense with three RBIs, two coming on a single and the lead one with a sacrifice fly. Jonathan Villar also had a strong game with two hits, including a double.

Jacob deGrom returns to the mound to build upon his historic season after dealing with elbow issues. Robert Stock makes his Cubs debut, and first MLB start in game three of the series. The first pitch is once again scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET from Citi Field.

Mets Game Preview: (5/31/21) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (19-35)

The New York Mets are back on the road to begin a nine-game trip, starting with three against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Mets will welcome back some much-needed players against the team with the worst record in the National League.

The trio of Pete Alonso, Kevin Pillar, and Seth Lugo all return to the active roster to begin the road trip. Khalil Lee, Sean Reid-Foley, and Patrick Mazeika. All three players are a massive boost after so many Mets have landed on the IL. Alonso will bring much-needed power, and Pillar’s remarkable return gives the Mets an everyday center fielder. The Mets bullpen did not need much help, but Lugo’s talent makes the group even stronger.

The Diamondbacks will be happy to flip the calendar to June after winning just five games this month. Their win against the Cardinals on Sunday broke a 13 game losing streak, one short of their longest streak. D’Backs pitching has struggled with the third-worst ERA (4.93), allowed the third-most home runs (72) and highest batting average against (.263). This should help a Mets offense that is one of the worst in baseball but is coming off an 11 outburst on Saturday.

Pitching Matchup

Jacob deGrom takes his 0.80 ERA back to the mound after a stellar performance in his first outing off the injured list. deGrom worked five innings, allowing one run, striking out nine, and using just 63 pitches against the Colorado Rockies. In his start against the D’Backs earlier this season, he pitched five innings and allowed just a run. Uncharacteristically, deGrom walked three and only struck out six, which resulted in him leaving with an injury.

Merrill Kelly pitches for the D’Backs and looks to close out an excellent month of May. He struggled in April with a 6.63 ERA but pitched to a 3.52 ERA this month. Kelly walked five in 5.2 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) against the Mets earlier this month.

Matchup To Look Out For

Jacob deGrom vs. Nick Ahmed: 1-for-10 (.100), Double, 3 Strikeouts

Mets’ injury news: Seth Lugo completes second rehab outing; JD Davis takes reps at first base

As of Saturday morning, the New York Mets could probably field an entire team of players currently on the injured list. Their injury crisis is almost unprecedented, yet they have been able to maintain the top spot in the National League East division with a 21-17 record.

One of the Mets’ players that hasn’t even been able to make his season debut is Seth Lugo, who went down with an elbow injury during spring training. One of the most reliable relievers in the history of the franchise, Lugo won’t appear in official MLB games before June, but he is in the final stages of his recovery and will, barring setbacks, be ready for when it’s time for him to get off the 60-man injured list.

Lugo appeared in two rehab games this week, one on Tuesday with St. Lucie, and another one on Friday with Triple-A Syracuse, according to SNY. Yesterday, he tossed a scoreless seventh frame with one strikeout and a walk. He went out for the eighth, but walked the leadoff man and was pulled at that point.

The Mets’ right-hander threw 25 pitches. His next outing will likely come on Sunday, per Syracuse manager Chad Kreuter.

The Mets want JD Davis to play first base

On the other hand, Mets’ third baseman J.D. Davis, who has been out over a week with a sprained finger, may be preparing to play some first base upon his arrival.

He played first base for Syracuse on Friday night, and Kreuter said that the team wants to see if he can handle the position given that Pete Alonso is currently on the injured list.

Davis should be back with the Mets next week, and his return will be a welcomed development for a team that has been without Jeff McNeil, Alonso, and other stars in the past few days.

New York Mets Injury Report (April 26, 2021)

The New York Mets have had relatively good luck with injuries to start the season and even saw a bullpen arm leave the injured list over the weekend. Drew Smith left the 10-day IL and went to the Mets alternate site. The right-handed reliever was dealing with shoulder soreness after having an excellent spring training. Smith only allowed one hit in three innings with the same number of strikeouts and figures to rejoin the bullpen when fully healthy.

Carlos Carrasco is progressing nicely from the hamstring tear he suffered in spring training. On Saturday, Carrasco pitched four innings without any issues for the second consecutive outing. Since Carrasco does not have any lingering problems, the focus has shifted toward getting himself ready to make a full start when he rejoins the roster. Manager Luis Rojas said Carrasco is expected to make his Mets debut during the second week of May.

Seth Lugo is being treated very carefully as he works his way back from elbow surgery. He has begun to throw bullpen sessions and expects to throw live bp within the next couple of weeks. The original timeline had Lugo set to return in June, but he can return towards the end of May at his current pace. Since Lugo’s focus is relief pitching, there is no need to ramp him up to throw more than two innings.

Thor Inching Back

On Saturday, Noah Syndergaard pitched in an intersquad game for the first time. Syndergaard’s fastball is not at 100 mph yet, but a stellar 97 is still plenty for Thor. Rojas and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner were pleased with what they saw in the one-inning outing. Syndergaard threw all of his pitches to the five batters he faced. For the next six weeks, Syndergaard will go through a regular spring training atmosphere to get himself ready to pitch every fifth day. If Syndergaard progresses as expected, he will return to the mound in mid-June.

Dellin Betances has proven to be the pitching version of Jed Lowrie as he landed on the 60-day IL with a right shoulder impingement. He made one appearance this season before heading to the IL. Betances struggled to find his velocity or the strike zone during the spring, making him impossible to use in any critical situation. Whether he is actually injured or not, the Mets are buying themselves time to determine if Betances actually has anything left in the tank.

Canceling The Mets Opening Series Could Open Up The Starting Rotation

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The last 24 hours leading to Opening Day were a complete whirlwind for the New York Mets. At 11 p.m. on Wednesday, they announced the Francisco Lindor extension, which set the momentum going towards the following night’s game. 12 hours later, the disappointment of a postponed game quickly calmed down the positive vibes heading into the day.

The Mets knew there was at least one positive COVID case on Wednesday, but the announcement of two more on Thursday forced a postponement of game one. While the three positives do not affect the Mets roster, there could still be more lingering throughout the Nats clubhouse. The players in close contact also quarantine for a limited time. Even with a taxi squad, the Nats will need to make more roster moves to field a 26-man roster for their first game. They faced this same issue at the beginning of 2020 when Juan Soto missed time with a positive test.

Rotation Strength

For the Mets, we still know that Jacob deGrom will pitch the first game of the season, no matter when they play. At this point, it seems that they will open their season on Monday, April 5, in Philadelphia against the Phillies. It still allows Luis Rojas to set his 4-man rotation as he planned before the postponements. deGrom will be followed by Marcus Stroman, David Peterson, and Taijuan Walker before their off-day on Friday.

The Mets ace can return to the mound Saturday, and they can go all the way to April 14 without using a fifth starter. This would be one of two games in April where the Mets would need a fifth starter. After Joey Lucchesi‘s start on the 14th, they have the following two Mondays off. This allows deGrom to get his usual rest and sneak in an extra start out of it. The Mets also get the final Thursday in April off, which allows them to get back to the 4-man rotation for another week.

Not only does this help the current roster, but it helps the Mets on the shelf. Carlos Carrasco‘s absence will not feel as Lucchesi only has two April starts. The same could be said for Seth Lugo as they get an extra arm in the bullpen when Lucchesi goes more than his regular rest without making a start. Of course, we all want the Mets season to get started, but this is the best way to bring light to a dark situation.

New York Mets: Seth Lugo is happy that his elbow injury wasn’t worse

The New York Mets received some bad news last week, when they learned that one of their best and most consistent relievers, Seth Lugo, will need surgery to remove a bone spur in his throwing elbow. He won’t pick up a ball for the next six weeks, and then, he will have to complete rehab and get himself into game shape.

It could be May before we see Lugo on a major league mound again. Yet the pitcher is happy with the diagnosis, because it could have been much, much worse.

In an interview with MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, the Mets’ reliever confessed he felt that something was not right with his elbow last week. It began swelling and it wouldn’t subside, so he reported the issue after waiting a couple of days.

The Mets scheduled an MRI, which discovered a bone spur that had broken off his right elbow.

Lugo is no stranger to elbow problems. In fact, he has been pitching with a partially torn UCL in his elbow since 2017, much like former Yankees’ pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

“I’ve been optimistic since [Friday],” Lugo said. “Last week, I was sitting there thinking, ‘If I tore [a ligament], my career might be over, so this is devastating.’ But I feel really good now that it’s just [the bone spur]. … The worst-case scenario was, I don’t pitch again, ever, so I’m pretty happy.”

A huge blow for the Mets

Lugo has been a bullpen stalwart for the Mets, but now, he will have to get his surgery, rest, and rehab. Now, he is just relieved the swelling in his elbow stemmed from the loose bone spur and not his UCL.

“I was actually pretty happy about [the diagnosis],” said Lugo, who according to DiComo opted to rehab his UCL rather than undergo Tommy John surgery in 2017. “It was good news for me, minus missing a little bit of time. … This is kind of the first thing that’s ever popped up ever since — I don’t want to say the UCL. I don’t want to bring it up. With the MRI [on Friday], it looked great. The doctor was really impressed with how it wound up.”

“I’m just going to have the surgery and go from there,” Lugo said.

The New York Mets are well-prepared to cope with Lugo’s temporary loss. They have Edwin Diaz and Trevor May as a late-inning tandem, with fellow new signing Aaron Loup ready to take the ball when needed. Bounceback candidate such as Dellin Betances and Jeurys Familia figure to offer competent innings, too, and the team is reportedly after Trevor Rosenthal.

The New York Mets lose one of their best reliever to elbow surgery

The New York Mets received some bad injury-related news this weekend, as they are set to lose one of their best relievers for a considerable period of time.

The Mets revealed on Saturday morning that right-handed relief pitcher Seth Lugo is set to undergo surgery on Tuesday, as doctors will remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow.

According to the team, Lugo, 31, will be on the shelf for at least six weeks, and then he will start a throwing program. The news means that Lugo is set to miss the start of the 2021 season, as he won’t be ready in time.

According to NBA Sports Edge, the Mets’ pitcher had the bone spur break off at some point during his regular offseason throwing program and informed the team after he was unable to get the inflammation to subside.

The Mets had Lugo bounce between the starting rotation and the bullpen in an ugly 2020 season that saw the overall organizational pitching depth evaporate due to injuries, bad performances, and opt outs.

The Mets’ premier reliever will be out for six weeks

Lugo pitched 16 games for the Mets in 2020, with seven starts. In 36.2 innings, he had a 5.15 ERA and a 4.45 FIP, with a very good 29.4 K% and a 6.3 BB%.

With the New York Mets’ additions to the rotation, namely Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman, and Joey Lucchesi, the expectation was that Lugo returned to the bullpen, where he has a career 2.53 ERA in 188.2 innings.

However, this development changes the equation and may result in the Mets being more aggressive in the free agent market as they look to bolster their bullpen. Pitchers like Trevor Rosenthal and Justin Wilson, just to name a couple, are free to sign with any team.

The Mets are also monitoring the trade market, as they are in conversations to bring Chicago Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant.

New York Mets are reportedly planning to use Seth Lugo out of the bullpen in 2021

After shoring up their rotation with the acquisition of Carlos Carrasco, the New York Mets are reportedly planning to use Seth Lugo, who made some starts in 2020 as a last resort option during a depth crisis, in his more familiar role: the bullpen.

In the past, Lugo has repeatedly stated he would like to be in the rotation. However, the numbers suggest that he is a far better reliever than he is a starter. He has been the Mets’ most consistent bullpen weapon since he took the role full-time in 2018.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the “belief and expectation” is that the New York Mets are planning on using Seth Lugo out of the bullpen in 2021.

The Mets were forced to use Lugo in the rotation in 2020, after Marcus Stroman opted out of the season, and Michael Wacha and David Peterson suffered injuries. Noah Syndergaard was already lost for the year in the spring.

The Mets have more depth now

However, Lugo didn’t fare very well. Of course, the sample size is tiny, but in 26.1 innings, he had a 6.15 ERA and batters slashed .296/.350/.556 against him. As a reliever, he put a 2.61 ERA in 10.1 frames, and limited hitters to a .211/.250/.342 line.

Lugo has a 4.35 ERA as a starter, and a 2.53 mark as a reliever. With some uncertainty surrounding Dellin Betances and Brad Brach’s ability to bounce back, the Mets will probably better off sending Lugo to the bullpen.

After acquiring Carrasco, they can afford to do it. They now have Jacob deGrom, Stroman, Carrasco, Peterson, and Steven Matz as the current top five, with Syndergaard joining the group in June or July.

On Thursday, Mets’ president Sandy Alderson explained that “you could say he’s more a bullpen piece because of what we’ve added in the starting rotation. And conversely, you could say that he’s more of a starting pitching piece because of the depth we’ve added in the bullpen.”

However, per Heyman, the plan is to return Lugo where he has flourished in his career.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Seth Lugo

Seth Lugo was the New York Mets version of Jekyll and Hyde during the 2020 season. Lugo’s “Jekyll” was his strong pitching out of the bullpen and his “Hyde” coming out as a starting pitcher. The latter forced his ERA to increase to a number nowhere near his bullpen production.

Lugo started the season in his normal role as a late innings specialist with the ability to pitch for more than three outs. He battled through a couple of rough outings to get himself in mid-season form all the way through his first start. Lugo was dominant through 10 games (1 start) with a 2.03 ERA, .170 average against, and only allowing eight hits.

Lack of Rotation Depth

The Mets pitching depth was so thin to a point where Lugo was forced into a starter role. Despite his success in the bullpen, it was the worst decision the Mets could make. As a starter, his past efforts showed he was just average while he was at an All-Star level in the bullpen. Lugo’s first start was a perfect three innings with five strikeouts, but it went downhill in his future starts.

In the following six starts, Lugo had a 6.23 ERA, allowed seven home runs, and a .323 batting average. Lugo had more starts of allowing six runs or more (2) than he did quality starts (1). Lugo had an issue with his curveball during a few of his starts, which caused deception issues with his other pitches. The curveball is his best weapon, and going into starts without confidence in the pitch puts him at a disadvantage.

Lugo finished the season with a 5.15 ERA and a 2.5 HR/9, which was the worst of his career. There are plenty of signs from the naked eye that show he is much better than those numbers, and the statistics show too. Lugo had a 3.29 SIERA and a 1.81 GB/FB from his 7.5-degree average launch angle.

With his fly ball numbers minuscule compared to the past, the question is why so many home runs were hit? Lugo’s average exit velocity was 90 mph, and his 42.6 hard-hit percentage were both career highs. Fly balls were hitless, but when they occurred, they typically resulted in damage.

The Mets’ goal should be to acquire enough starting pitching depth to keep Lugo in the bullpen. Lugo is just as valuable to Edwin Diaz in the bullpen and is needed as a second quality arm late in the game. Championship teams always have a pitcher who becomes a multiple inning reliever deep in the postseason. Julio Urias, Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi, Charlie Morton are the four warriors from the last four champs. Lugo fits right into that mold, which leaves his role in the bullpen indispensable.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

4-Seam Fastball: 45 (65), Lugo lost an mph on it, and the slugging percentage rose from .246 to .686.

Sinker: 30 (55), Batters hit .321 after hitting just .167 during 2019.

Curveball: 55 (70), Still has the elite spin rate (3213 rpm) but did not net the usual results.

Slider: 30 (30), 85 of 92 thrown to righties for a .333 average. Lugo has never had consistent success with it in the big leagues. As Wally Backman once said, “if a pitcher has a curveball and slider, one of them suck.”

Changeup: 70 (70), 62 of 65 were thrown to lefties, and it should be relied upon more in 2021. Despite not recording a strikeout on a changeup, batters only hit .143 against it.

Command: 60 (75), Walks have never been an issue for Lugo. The only blemish on his command comes from his curveball slump and fastball in the middle of the strike zone.

Overall: 50 (80), Usually pitchers with ERA’s over five get worse grades, but not many pitchers do with Lugo is capable of in the bullpen.

 

New York Mets: Was Seth Lugo a viable starter?

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.