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New York Mets: Three Seth Lugo predictions for the 2020 season

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - AUGUST 17: Relief pitcher Seth Lugo #67 of the New York Mets throws in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - AUGUST 17: Relief pitcher Seth Lugo #67 of the New York Mets throws in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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CINCINNATI, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 21: Seth Lugo #67 of the New York Mets pitches during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 21, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)

Seth Lugo is expected to remain in the New York Mets bullpen for the 2020 season. What kind of a performance can we predict from him?

In the midst of the New York Mets bullpen troubles in 2019, one man stood out as a true beacon of hope: Seth Lugo. After a couple of years bouncing between the minor league and major league squads, Lugo had a breakout year in 2018, followed by another fantastic year in 2019 that solidified his status as “Mets relief ace.”

He was unquestionably the star of the bullpen in Flushing last year, posting an admirable 2.70 ERA with 104 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 80 innings of work. Lugo was rewarded for his mastery with the “NL Reliever of the Month” award in July, in which he did not allow a single earned run in 12 appearances while holding opponents to a microscopic .075 batting average.

The addition of Dellin Betances in December certainly helped shore up the Mets’ bullpen, but Lugo remains an integral part of the team this coming season. So, what will he bring to the mound in 2020? Here are my three predictions for how Lugo will perform this year.

WHIP, there it is

Among Lugo’s many remarkable stats from the 2019 season, his minuscule 0.900 WHIP stands out as perhaps the most impressive. Though Lugo did not pitch enough innings to qualify for the league leaders in this category, had he qualified, his WHIP would have been the best in the National League.

Mets fans who watched Lugo closely in 2019 will recall his remarkable ability to both strand baserunners and avoid putting baserunners on in the first place. This factor was especially important in the many high-leverage situations that Lugo pitched in throughout 2019. It will be difficult for him to replicate his 0.900 WHIP from 2019, but by continuing to expertly command his fastball and curveball, I believe that Lugo is in line for another WHIP under 1.000 next year.

This may depend on how many innings he pitches in 2020, and ideally, the better the Mets’ rotation shakes out, the fewer innings Lugo will pitch. The coaching staff generally agreed on a “less is more” policy regarding Lugo’s innings in 2019, and it worked in his favor. With a sweet spot of 80-100 innings of work in 2020, a healthy Lugo should produce an equally sparkling WHIP next season.

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