New York Mets pitcher Seth Lugo was likely victimized by the Houston Astros cheating scandal in 2017 when a start against them suddenly turned ugly.
Back in 2017, the New York Mets had already realized their fate was sealed and they were not going to the playoffs. On September 2, they were scheduled for a doubleheader against the Houston Astros down at Minute Maid Park—home of the trashcan banging cheaters.
On the mound for the Mets to begin the game was none other than Seth Lugo. Now a star reliever for the club, at the time he was still fighting for a rotation spot. Most of his season was spent in this role with often unfavorable overall results.
Lugo cruised through the first five innings of the game without allowing a run. After the Mets scored a run to break the 0-0 tie in the top of the sixth, Houston got to work on Lugo in the bottom half.
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When the inning was through, the Astros led 4-1. This ended up as the final score of a game no one really thought much about until Lugo commented on it and how he believes this start affected his career.
The next day, Lugo says he was told the coaches didn’t think he would start anymore. Lugo doesn’t recall the exact words used, but this was the message they were trying to get across.
However, he did get five more before the year was over. In which case, I’m not so sure Lugo has a case against the Astros for fully changing the trajectory of his career.
Lugo tossed six shutout innings on September 8 versus the Cincinnati Reds. On September 14, he put together a start that makes the Astros game look like a friendlier affair.
The Chicago Cubs rocked Lugo for 8 runs in 3 innings of work. There’s nothing to suggest they were cheating in 2017. So, what gives?
Lugo did finish the year strong with better outings against the Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies. When the season concluded, he owned a 4.71 ERA.
All throughout 2017, Lugo had some ups and downs on the mound. In fact, he got battered around pretty good many times as did just about every other Mets starter.
The next spring, Lugo was competing for a rotation spot. He was told by the Mets he won one. Unfortunately, he apparently didn’t as he began the year in the bullpen.
Looking back at the start of the 2018 season, I’m not even quite sure how the Mets planned to put him in the rotation. This was a season where Zack Wheeler began the year in the minor leagues because of the starting pitching surplus. They eventually had to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen to make room for Wheeler and it became clear the Dark Knight didn’t have it anymore.
I understand Lugo’s frustration with what happened in 2017. All of the evidence certainly points that he was cheated out of one of the best starts of his career. He certainly has a case against Houston, but I also think the way the rest of the year went factored into the Mets moving him to the bullpen.
It’s obvious Lugo wants to be a starting pitcher. In many ways, it’s a shame he won’t get the opportunity—at least not with the Mets.
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Lugo has been nothing but professional and honest throughout all of the changes he has endured during his time as a big league pitcher. Guys like him deserve the chance to play the type of game they desire. Each year, with his triumphant in the relief role and the team’s interest in bringing in outside help for the rotation convinces me he won’t get what he wants most.