This is the job Lugo has had longer than any other. It’s also the one he’s most likely to keep. Why fix what ain’t broke?
Lugo’s ERA as a reliever is about a run and a half lower than it is as a starter. This is something to expect from most pitchers. Nevertheless, the difference is maybe more positive because of how low it actually is. His ERA as a starter isn’t half-bad so to own an ERA anywhere below 3.00 while pitching in relief is fantastic.
There’s little glamour pitching in relief even when you’re used as a multi-inning option like the Mets do with Lugo. At the end of the day, you’re still the cavalry.
In 2019, we have seen Lugo increase his strikeout numbers and decrease the frequency of walks. It has made him an even more effective bullpen arm for a team that had a lot of bleeding in late innings for a good chunk of the year.
Relievers like Lugo don’t grow on trees. They’re hard to build in the minor leagues, too. The best pitchers are put on the mound in the first inning until they fail and become relievers. I can’t say Lugo is a failed starter who became a reliever. It’s just not fair because in another organization, we may have seen him develop further in that role.
The importance of relief pitching seems to grow each season. Starters exit from games early, leaving trust in the bullpen to finish it off. Having Lugo present, to possibly go more than a single frame, is a luxury for the Mets. Barring some big change, I don’t see him leaving the job title we’ve seen him hold most.