New York Mets must insert Seth Lugo into the starting rotation

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 14: Seth Lugo #67 of the New York Mets throws a pitch in the ninth inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 14, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 6-5. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 14: Seth Lugo #67 of the New York Mets throws a pitch in the ninth inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 14, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 6-5. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

The New York Mets have a huge hole in their starting rotation. Seth Lugo can help fix that.

It is no secret that after Marcus Stroman’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 season, the New York Mets rotation is in complete shambles. Yes, Jacob deGrom is still there and the Mets are very fortunate for that. But after deGrom, the Mets have Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, David Peterson, and Robert Gsellman, who is the replacement for an injured Michael Wacha. To put it lightly, this rotation is not good enough.

The decision to use Robert Gsellman in the rotation does make some sense. He has experience as a starter and has had mixed results. In 2016, Gsellman helped the Mets get to the postseason down the stretch making eight starts and pitching to a 2.42 ERA. This was his first taste of the majors. Once teams started getting used to seeing him in 2017, he made 22 starts and had a 5.29 ERA in those starts. Since then, Gsellman has been in the bullpen and has a career ERA of 4.25, slightly better than his rotation numbers.

Hopefully he can recapture some of that 2016 form and pitch well in the rotation. However, nothing I’ve seen from him in the last couple of years has shown me that he is capable of that. This is not even mentioning he is coming off of an injury and will take a long time to get stretched out to the point where he can be counted on for 6 innings.

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The guy I wish the Mets would’ve given a shot to in the rotation is Seth Lugo. Just like Gsellman, Lugo helped the Mets get to the playoffs as a member of the rotation in 2016.

That year, Lugo went 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 17 appearances (8 starts). Just like Gsellman, Lugo took a step down in 2017 as he went 7-5 with a 4.71 ERA in 18 starts. In his career, Lugo has made 31 starts and has a 4.06 ERA. In the bullpen, he’s found much more success. Lugo has become a staple in the back end of the bullpen and has become the most trusted member of the ‘pen.

Lugo’s role in the bullpen has mainly been to pitch two innings in his appearances to try and lock down a close win.

While he is incredibly valuable in that role, I believe Lugo can be successful in the rotation. Maybe not as successful as he’s been in the bullpen, but certainly better than everyone the Mets have in their rotation now not named Jacob deGrom.

The main reason I believe moving Lugo to the rotation is a good move, is because of the state of the bullpen. I believe a big reason the Mets didn’t explore this possibility sooner, was because the bullpen has been so dreadful the last couple of years. Having Lugo in the bullpen ensured there would be an arm the Mets could rely upon to lock down a win.

The bullpen this year has not been the Achilles heel of this team. Yes, it still is not great, but the rotation is worse. Edwin Diaz has actually been solid of late. In the month of August, he has pitched 6 scoreless innings out of the bullpen and has struck out 12 with only one walk. While these appearances have all been in lower leverage spots, I am starting to believe he has turned a corner. He is locating his pitches and even in his appearance when he blew the save against the Braves, the pitch Marcell Ozuna hit out was not even a strike and was located.

While he may not be the Edwin Diaz of Seattle, he’s starting to prove he can be a solid arm in the pen. If he can limit the home runs, I believe the sky is the limit. The rest of the Mets bullpen includes arms that have been very solid in the past. They have guys like Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson. And they just got Brad Brach and Jared Hughes back recently. I believe the bullpen has enough depth to offset losing Lugo to the rotation.

Another reason why Lugo should be in the rotation is because he cannot pitch on back to back days most of the time. Since his role is usually to pitch multiple innings out of the pen, Lugo is never usually available on a second day. Lugo also is pitching with a partially torn UCL which hampers his ability to pitch on back to back days as well. In one turn through the rotation, it is likely Lugo would only make one or two appearances out of the bullpen. While he is certainly valuable in that role, is that more valuable than him pitching 6 innings giving up 2 or 3 runs?

The Mets will be in a much better position to win a game Seth Lugo starts over a game Robert Gsellman starts. I think everyone can agree with that. If the Mets are trailing in a game because the starting pitching isn’t doing well, then Lugo wouldn’t be used in that game out of the bullpen anyway.

Starting pitching is extremely important and the Mets have fallen behind early in games way too often. Having someone who has pitched so well and that you know can get outs early in games is crucial. For years the Mets have been built off of having an outstanding rotation. The Nationals just won a World Series mainly due to their starting rotation.

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The Mets have the best pitcher in baseball to lead them but have too many question marks to follow. Seth Lugo would be the surest thing the Mets have in a rotation, and the bullpen would have to step it up. They certainly have the pieces to do so.