NY Mets closer duties unofficially land in Seth Lugo’s palm
By Tim Boyle
Seth Lugo is getting more chances to close games for the New York Mets and should continue to do so in 2020.
It’s not official and yet it is. Over the last few games, we have seen Seth Lugo in more ninth inning situations for the New York Mets. We have also witnessed Edwin Diaz come into the game earlier in non-save situations.
The Mets don’t have to make an announcement. They don’t need to bruise Diaz’s ego or put Lugo on a pedestal at all for everyone to know the obvious: Lugo is this team’s preferred choice for the final three or six outs each night.
It’s an easier said than done concept. Lugo’s struggles pitching on back-to-back nights make him something closer to a platoon closer. Unfortunately, the team doesn’t have an equal pairing to put with their most trusted arm in the bullpen.
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Nevertheless, something many expected to take place in 2020 has. Save opportunities are going to Lugo as the Mets hope to navigate this shortened season.
Before any celebration takes place, I don’t think this is the end of Diaz in the ninth inning. If anything, I think duties will be shared between him and Lugo with a preference for the latter when all things are equal.
The thing about Diaz is that he has been deceptively worse than his numbers suggest. Even last year, when he was pitching “well,” there were many times when he got into danger or gave up a home run ball.
Sure, he got the save. But it never seemed to come easily.
Moving Lugo into the closer role has worked early on for the 2020 Mets because of how large the roster is. However, with a shrinking roster, the team will be able to carry fewer relievers to eat up some of those extra innings.
What’s more, some of the more trusted arms in the bullpen haven’t figured things out yet. Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson haven’t been the effective relievers we had hoped for. The team has gotten some of their best outs from people like Drew Smith and even Jeurys Familia.
The plan for 2020 was for Diaz to bounce back and have the kind of year he had with the Seattle Mariners before coming to the Big Apple. I thought this team would have stuck with it a little too long. I was wrong and it’s probably for the best.
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The season is already one-fourth of the way complete. The Mets don’t have just one option for the ninth inning anymore. They have a couple of places to turn—some much better than others.