Joey Lucchesi wasn’t set up for success in his first start with the New York Mets. He had just a single relief appearance coming into his debut versus the Colorado Rockies. He had to do it with a little rust and in an unforgiving ballpark.
Lucchesi allowed all of his three runs in the first inning then settled down for two scoreless. His night ended early in part two of the doubleheader, only giving us a glimpse of what he can do as a starter.
In his second trip to the mound as a starter this season, we should (hopefully) get a better idea of what Lucchesi can offer the 2021 Mets.
Setting some expectations for Joey Lucchesi’s first year with the Mets
Lucchesi isn’t just a rental. He can become an important player on the Mets for several more seasons. His exact role, not yet defined, could sway from reliever to starter depending on how well he pitches this year.
I put exactly zero stock into what he has done so far this season. I need to see a lot more before I jump to a conclusion. Speaking of, that would be a great idea for a floor mat.
As far as expectations go for Lucchesi, his performance with the San Diego Padres in 299.1 innings of work suggests he’s probably more a back-end rotation arm. He wrapped up his time in Southern California with a 4.21 ERA.
I’m beginning to look at Lucchesi as a direct replacement for Steven Matz with one major difference: Lucchesi can’t have those blowup seasons like Matz did. Matz was horrific in 2017 and again in 2020. My expectations for Lucchesi don’t include anything better than an ERA from 3.80-4.50. He’s clear fifth starter material.
This might not actually be the role he’s ultimately destined for. The Mets have a lot of starting pitcher candidates. Even if they let some guys walk away this winter, there’s going to be a battle for those early innings.
Lucchesi should prepare himself to switch back and forth between starter and reliever. I won’t fault him for struggling at times. It’s a tough gig to work as a utility pitcher.
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We shouldn’t get caught up in expecting big things from Lucchesi in 2021. He’s a first-half starter for this team that may very likely sink into the minor leagues when the rest of the artillery for the rotation returns. Long-term, he could be much more.