Mets pitcher Joey Lucchesi might not be anything more than rotation insurance
It’s far too soon to tell what Joey Lucchesi can possibly accomplish as a major league pitcher. Even when we consider his days with the San Diego Padres, there’s not enough to go on. Will he become a mainstay in future New York Mets rotations? Or is Lucchesi nothing more than rotational depth for the current regime?
Based on his early usage and a little bit of his performance, I’m beginning to lean toward the ladder.
The Mets future may not include Joey Lucchesi pitching in a big role
When the Mets first acquired Lucchesi, I remember there was excitement. Because I live on the East Coast and tend to fall asleep before it even gets dark in Nebraska, I wasn’t too familiar with the man. I knew more about mob boss Tommy Lucchesse than the young Padres southpaw.
Those eager to see what might unfold with Lucchesi looked at his potential as a reason to remain optimistic. As one of several young arms developed in the San Diego system, the Mets were apparently getting a steal. If that were the case, why was he even available in the first place?
We know the Padres loaded up on starting pitching depth this offseason. In the Lucchesi trade which involved the Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates, they managed to bring in Joe Musgrove—the man who would go on to throw the first no-hitter in franchise history. It was an upgrade for the team. Rather than wait for Lucchesi to turn things around and pitch a little more consistently, the Padres chose to go with Musgrove who just happened to be a guy in his late 20s yet to reach his full potential. So far, it has worked out incredibly well for them.
Lucchesi clearly didn’t fit into any future plans the Padres had. For the Mets, there was a chance at a fifth starter role. There still is, but right now, it feels a little too much like an insurance policy against injuries and/or missing out on future arms.
Joey Lucchesi can help the Mets protect against all worst-case scenarios
Lucchesi is currently seventh on the Mets’ starting pitcher depth chart. Only because Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard are on the IL has he been able to start a handful of games for them in 2021. However, the Mets have skipped over him when the schedule has allowed them to do so.
This isn’t really a knock against Lucchesi’s abilities nor should we be concerned about the early hooks he has in starts. April can be like an extended spring training for some players. For Lucchesi, it was only a preview.
I’m looking further down the line. Next year’s Mets rotation will include Jacob deGrom, Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, and I would assume at least one bigger name veteran. Will it be Noah Syndergaard or Marcus Stroman? Probably. I don’t expect both. I do expect one or at least someone of their ilk.
This leaves Lucchesi in a similar spot as this year. He’ll be competing with David Peterson for a rotation spot. He could win it but his job would always be in jeopardy.
As time goes on, Lucchesi will either establish himself in the rotation or get passed by younger starting pitchers. Not set to hit free agency for a few more seasons, Lucchesi may spend every year not so sure what his role will be until the season begins.
No doubt a nice piece to have, Lucchesi feels like one of those pitchers that the Mets will continually look to upgrade over. Without a chance to start regularly in 2021 (if we get everyone back healthy), he’ll have a tough time winning over management as a guy they can fully trust as a starter.
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There is one positive role Lucchesi could fill if it’s not in the rotation. The left-handed version of Seth Lugo could be a dangerous weapon in the bullpen. Perhaps this is what the Mets acquired when they traded for Lucchesi.