The last Mets pitcher who is under consideration for a chance to start in the team’s rotation is Joey Lucchesi, a southpaw who the Mets acquired from the San Diego Padres. Lucchesi is 27 years old and does not become arbitration-eligible until 2022 at the earliest. This means that Lucchesi is another cheap and fairly young pitcher who contributes to the Mets new starting pitching depth.
Former Padres pitcher Joey Lucchesi is in need of a bounceback year with the Mets after his patchy performance in 2020.
Lucchesi was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Padres, coming out of a solid run at Southeast Mississippi State. He was heralded for his “churve,” as he threw a pitch that blended his curveball with his change-up. It is a pitch that was effective for him in college and with the Padres. However, Lucchesi has so far been unable to develop an effective third pitch outside of that pitch and his fastball. For him to solidify a spot in any team’s starting rotation, he is going to need to show that he has more than two pitches he can throw effectively.
Lucchesi, like Yamamoto and Lugo, also had a poor 2020 season. He finished the season with a 7.94 ERA and a 2.65 WHIP. Lucchesi’s biggest problem is that hitters hammer him the third time through the batting order. The San Diego Padres learned that over the course of the 2018 and 2019 seasons. With a career .943 OPS against him over his career thus far, it was no surprise, therefore, to see that the Padres refrained from having Lucchesi face hitters a third time at any point in 2020.
This is a scenario where the team allowed analytics to dictate how they utilized the young southpaw. As a result, Lucchesi did not receive an opportunity in 2020 to rewrite that narrative against him, but the problem was that he was ineffective at getting batters out the first two times through the order that he provided the Padres with no reason to give him that chance to go deeper in games. Simply put, he didn’t earn the right to pitch more innings, and with 2020 being a 60-game sprint that saw the Padres playing well, the team was not interested in showing patience with their young prospect.
Lucchesi will get an opportunity with the Mets to pitch. Whether he will start in the big leagues or in the minors will depend on what the team does during the rest of the free agency period. However, Lucchesi will have very stiff competition.
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Prediction: Lucchesi will begin the season as the Mets fifth starter (behind deGrom, Stroman, Carrasco, and Peterson) if they do not land another starting pitcher. If they do, Lucchesi will join Lugo in the bullpen, where he will be Lugo’s lefty equivalent, serving the Mets in various roles, including spot starter, long reliever, and even possibly as an opener.