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.

New York Mets: Only Fitting For A Blowout To End The Wilpon’s Reign

New York Mets, Billy Hamilton

Mediocrity is the first word that comes to mind in the broken marriage between the New York Mets and the Wilpon ownership. Their decisions, hirings, and lousy PR led to the Mets becoming the laughing stock of baseball and the butt of every joke. The Mets 15-5 loss to the Washington Nationals closed an ugly 18 years of Wilpon majority ownership.

Seth Lugo likely made his final start as a Met in which he allowed six runs and did not make it out of the second inning. The lack of quality starting rotation depth put the Mets in a situation where they had to force Lugo to be a starter. Should the Mets fix their pitching rotation, Lugo would play very well in his natural bullpen role.

Early Rout

This game was pretty well decided when the Nats had 11 runs after the third inning concluded. Brad Brach and Steven Matz concluded their poor seasons with poor outings, allowing the Nationals to put the game away. Dellin Betances also continued the trend when he made his second outing off the IL. Jeurys Familia was the only reliever to complete two innings without allowing a run and finished his season with a 3.71 ERA.

The two bright spots came from the bats of Pete Alonso and Guillermo Heredia. Alonso had three hits, including two home runs, to finish up the season on a good note. Heredia had two hits and drove in two runs as he hopes to earn an invite to camp in 2021.

The Mets finished their season at 26-34, tied for last place in the NL East. They fell under the .500 mark seven games into the season and never climbed out of that hole in their disappointing season. Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson inherit a broken organization, filled with potential. With their window to win still wide open, expect the front office to revamp this roster for the 2021 season.

New York Mets: Offense Backs Lugo in 5-2 Victory Over Rays

The New York Mets get a good starting pitching effort for the fourth consecutive night. This one against the Tampa Bay Rays came from Seth Lugo, who desperately needed one after his rough outing against the Phillies. The Mets offense also woke up to support Lugo in their 5-2 victory.

Lugo found the handle on his curveball early in this start. It eluded him over the last two starts, but his equalizer was the curve against the weak Rays offense. Lugo pitched 6.1 innings, allowing two runs (one earned), and striking out seven. Out of 95 pitches, 66 were strikes, and he produces plenty of uncomfortable swings.

Solving Snell

Blake Snell had one of the best starts of his career when he faced the Mets back in 2018. He came into his start without allowing any runs in the first two innings of the game during 2020. Robinson Cano changed that with his solo home run on an extremely high fastball in the second. Cano tomahawked the ball into the left-field corner, and it was the highest pitch hit for a home run this season.

Pete Alonso‘s solo home run in the fourth and RBI single in the sixth provided the other two runs against Snell. Alonso also contributed an RBI fielder’s choice in the eighth. Guillermo Heredia‘s first home run as a Met was sandwiched between Alonso’s RBI chances.

It was a much-needed game from Alonso, who was threatening to fall into the interstate with his batting average. Alonso’s swing looked calmer and relaxed instead of his typical swing, which caused him to be off-balanced.

The bullpen trio of Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve, and Edwin Diaz silenced the Rays bats for 2.2 innings after Lugo left the game. Wilson kept the tying run from scoring in the seventh, Shreve struck out the side in the eighth, and Diaz picked up his fifth save of the season. Diaz lowered his season ERA to a magnificent 1.50 on the season.

The Mets hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with Michael Wacha on the mound in the rubber match of the series. He opposes the fireballer Tyler Glasnow for the 7:10 p.m. ET start from Citi Field.

New York Mets Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays (9/21-9/23)

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets try to hold on to their small hopes of making the postseason as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game series. The Rays are the best team in the American League, and the Mets need a sweep to keep their chances alive.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Monday, (9/21) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Pete Fairbanks (5-3, 2.74 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (4-1, 2.08 ERA)

Tuesday, (9/22) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Blake Snell (4-1, 3.05 ERA) vs. Seth Lugo (2-3, 4.34 ERA)

Wednesday, (9/23) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Tyler Glasnow (4-1, 4.21 ERA) vs. TBA

Jacob deGrom makes his first start after hamstring spasms forced him out after two innings. The poor start dropped him back in the Cy Young race, but two more great starts from deGrom could do plenty to get him his third straight Cy Young. Also, the Mets need a great start out of him as he tries to contend with the tough Rays offense.

Injuries were not the cause of reason for Seth Lugo’s last start. Balls flew all around Citizens Bank Park, and it was evident his swing and miss stuff was non-existent. Despite the Mets winning the game, it put the rotation for game one against the Braves in shambles.

Rays Pitching Depth

The Rays pitching is one of the biggest reasons they are a World Series contender this season. They have a 3.66 ERA and rank second in the AL in strikeouts. Twelve different pitchers have started games for them, and the same amount have recorded saves. Manager Kevin Cash has weapons to use at any time and is not afraid to use them in big moments.

Young upstart Brandon Lowe is emerging into a start this season. He leads the Rays in all three triple crown stats, hitting .272 with 13 home runs and 33 runs batted in. Lowe also leads the Rays in hits, walks, runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Key Stats

Blake Snell vs. Todd Frazier: 1-for-8 (.182), Walk, Strikeout

Michael Conforto during Wins in 2020: .419/.537/.756, 8 Doubles, 7 Home Runs, 15 Walks, 17 Strikeouts

Brandon Nimmo w/2-Out during 2020: .341/.400/.610, 3 Doubles, Triple, 2 Home Runs, 3 Walks, 5 Strikeouts

Jacob deGrom Career vs. Rays: 2 Starts, 1.88 ERA, 14.1 IP, 15 Strikeouts

 

New York Mets: Four Run Ninth Inning Catapults 10-6 Win

The final game of the series for the New York Mets against the Philadelphia Phillies was all about surviving and advancing to the next game. Their starting pitcher did not make it out of the second inning, seven combined runs were scored in the first inning, and two pitchers had to throw on their third consecutive day. Despite all of it, the Mets lived to steal a 10-6 victory from the Phillies.

The Mets immediately got a lead for Seth Lugo in the first inning. Dominic Smith‘s RBI double followed by Robinson Cano‘s two-run single gave the Mets an early 3-0 lead. After Lugo struck out the first batter he faced, it was clear he had nothing on the mound.

He allowed back-to-back-to-back home runs to give back the lead as quickly as the Mets got it. After allowing a Jean Segura triple, Adam Haseley drove him in to give the Phillies a 4-3 first-inning lead. Lugo allowed another two runs in the second inning and had to be replaced with Erasmo Ramirez.

Uphill Battle

The Mets bullpen gave them everything they needed and more for the second straight night. Ramirez started with 2.1 shutout innings, Chasen Shreve followed with another 2.1 scoreless innings. During that period, a Pete Alonso solo homer and Brandon Nimmo‘s two-run triple got the Mets even with the Phillies in the sixth.

After Jeurys Familia got through the seventh, he ran into trouble in the eighth. Justin Wilson came in for a third straight game an showed the ill-effects of all the work. Wilson could not locate anything and walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases. Luckily he found the strike zone on one pitch to get Didi Gregorius to pop out and survive the eighth.

The Mets offense came alive in the ninth inning. Nimmo led off the ninth with a home run, Smith had an RBI triple, and Cano capped it off with a two-run home run. Things did not come easy for Edwin Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. He was also in for the third straight day but worked around three walks, getting the Mets a big win.

On Friday, the Mets begin a three-game weekend series against the Atlanta Braves. Steven Matz makes his return to the rotation and faces Cy Young candidate Max Fried. The first pitch from Citi Field is at 7:10 p.m. ET.