Best Case Scenario
While believing he will greatly improve upon last season’s excellent numbers is wishful thinking, believing that he will regress back to 2017 is overly negative. He will likely settle nicely in between his two full, healthy seasons 2016 and 2018.
His numerical statistics in ’16 and ’18 were nearly identical, as his ERA and WHIP were lowered by .01 in ’18. That is pure consistency because once was in the rotation and the other in the bullpen.
The previously referenced, additional help in that bullpen will only assist him in improving these numbers as he will not be overly relied upon. Thus a projected ERA of 2.50 and WHIP of 0.98 in 90 innings with about 100 strikeouts is a reasonable outlook.
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A deeper dive into the stats reveals the true brilliance of Lugo’s season last year. His 3.17 FIP is regarded as excellent by Fangraphs. His ’17 FIP was 3.95, which is in the above average range, indicating his lack of luck that season. Thus, it can be concluded that he truly has not had a poor season.
A decided improvement in FIP once he was moved to the ‘pen strongly implies its effectiveness. It also should be said that working under a pitching authority, such as with Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, also correlate with the trend in his numbers.
Regardless, he was most effective last season and his method of use should not be changed.
His role as a roving reliever is where he excels the most, but more importantly where he executes his pitches to their highest capacity. He is so vastly versatile that he can be used as an opener in a bullpen game or record crucial outs near the end of a game. Here he will prove to be a weapon, a backup option to the main relievers, and in worst case scenarios a spot starter option.
The stunning thing is he is able to provide depth to both the rotation and the bullpen. That is where his true value lies.
A Steven Matz injury always seems to be mistily lurking in the distance. However, Lugo can shine a beam of bright light to usher the ramshackle galleon of the Mets pitching staff safely to port.
Nautical references aside, the Mets roster does not exactly have enough pitching depth thus Lugo’s signature versatility and consistency is vital.