In his season debut, Lugo pitched seven solid innings combined with great defense in a 2-1 victory for the Mets
A day after the awaited returns of Steven Matz and Yoenis Cespedes, Sunday brought another anticipated 2017 debut. Seth Lugo made his return to the mound for the New York Mets and pitched seven good innings. He gave up one run on six hits while recording six strikeouts in a 2-1 win.
The theme of the day was the defense behind Lugo. Yes, Seth was solid overall but he got some great plays behind him. The most notable was in the fifth inning when the bases were loaded with one out and the Mets protecting a narrow lead. Asdrubal Cabrera made a great stop and flip to Neil Walker who then executed a quick turn. Wilmer Flores’ stretch combined for a double play (on review) to end the frame.
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Lugo didn’t use his curveball as much through the first six innings. Of his first 79 pitches, nine were curveballs. In his final inning of work, we saw more usage of the high spin rate curve that Lugo possesses. His total usage of the curve was 14.4%, slightly behind his season average last year (16.6).
Lugo had a tough time staying out of the middle of the plate in the only inning when he gave up a run. After allowing a lead-off double, the Braves got more hard contact off Lugo. He managed to escape the inning with minimal damage and looked much sharper in the next frame when he struck out the side. Of note is the part of the lineup he did it against.
Nick Markakis saw all fastballs, but Lugo varied speed and location before catching him looking. Matt Kemp was pitched backwards, being shown two off-speed pitches before Lugo ran the fastball by. Matt Adams fell behind 0-2 in the count and Lugo dug into the bag, inducing a swinging strike on a changeup.
Perhaps the most surprising thing was that Lugo was able to get a ball past Ender Inciarte on a third inning double. Lugo eventually came around to score what wound up being the winning run for the Mets.
Lugo did a solid job in all, mixing all four of his pitches. Just like Matz did yesterday, Lugo didn’t face a lot of trouble. He threw 60 of 90 pitches for strikes and walked two batters over seven innings. That added to what was an encouraging weekend for a Mets pitching staff which has been pelted with injuries and inconsistency.
Perhaps this is the beginning of the season stabilizing after a rough start. The Mets will hope that scenario continues to play out when they begin a new week on Monday against the defending champion, Chicago Cubs.