The 2017 season was a poor one for the Mets and the one season where Lugo pitched primarily as a starter. It’s the big reason why he owns a career 4.06 ERA in 31 total starts. However, his 13-8 record and improvement since does hint that if given another chance, he might be a whole lot better.
Lugo’s role as a starter diminished in 2018 when the team had six potential starting pitching options under their control. Matt Harvey’s early failures opened up for Zack Wheeler to reclaim the role. As the season went on, Lugo did get a few chances but looked a whole lot better in relief. He was and still is at his best in this situation.
Things haven’t changed much for the Mets. If Wheeler does walk into free agency this winter, I don’t think replacing him with Lugo is something they have on their mind. He has been far too valuable to this organization in relief. As silly as it may sound to some old-school baseball fans, the handful of innings he gives them two or three times per week is worth more than the five or six he can give once every five days.
There have been chances for Lugo to get an occasional spot start in 2019. Rather than remove him from the bullpen, the Mets have turned to guys like Walker Lockett and Wilmer Font. The results from them weren’t especially kind to the scoreboard.
Lugo turns 30 this November so I doubt we see him transition from reliever to regular starter. He’s not necessarily old to the earth, but as an athlete, it’s rare a guy at this age would go from reliever to starter. Usually, it goes the other way.