3) NY Mets player who needs to be better in the second half: Seth Lugo
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Mets in the first half was finding a consistently reliable setup man for Edwin Diaz. And while most of the bullpen has had an up-and-down year, the problem has been exacerbated by the continued struggles of Seth Lugo.
Unfortunately for Lugo, the results just haven’t been the same since he broke through as a reliever in 2018 and 2019, when he posted a combined 2.68 ERA across 115 games, all but five of which came out of the bullpen. In 97 games since then, he’s pitched to a 4.11 ERA.
It’s tough to pinpoint exactly why things haven’t been as smooth for Lugo, but it’s worth recalling that he had surgery last year to remove a loose body from his right elbow, which cost him the first two months of the 2021 season. Whether that has any lingering impact now is anyone’s guess, but his velocity generally remains the same and, interestingly, ranks in the top ten percent of the league in lowest hard-hit rate.
What has been apparent is Lugo’s inability to lock down opposing lineups in high leverage situations. When pitching in the seventh inning or later with the team tied, ahead by a run, or with the tying run on deck, Lugo has allowed hitters to post a .879 OPS against him.
Without a clear bridge option to their All-Star closer, the Mets must prioritize bullpen help at the trade deadline. Even so, they will need depth to carry them through the rest of the regular season and into October. A resurgence from Seth Lugo would go a long way in achieving that.