Former Mets fan favorite has evolved into an innings-eating, 8-pitch throwing ace

Seth Lugo has been one of the best pitchers in MLB this season.
Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

There are certain people you tell “no” to and they just have to go out and defy your wishes. This is kind of like what Seth Lugo is doing since leaving the New York Mets. For years, he wanted to move back into the rotation. His success in the bullpen, fear of injury, and a lack of consistent success when he did get his opportunity kept Lugo in relief. Upon reaching free agency, the San Diego Padres boldly signed him to be a starter in 2023.

The results were promising. Lugo made 26 starts and logged 146.1 innings. The 8-7 record and 3.57 ERA with just under a strikeout per inning was good enough for the Kansas City Royals to sign him in this most recent offseason. As it turns out, Lugo’s first year back as a starter was no fluke.

Now 6 starts deep, Lugo is among the league leaders in some notable categories. His 38 innings is behind only Logan Gilbert in the American League. His 4 wins is tied with a couple of AL pitchers and only a single victory behind several in the NL including Mets reliever Reed Garrett.

Former Mets pitcher Seth Lugo is doing more than compiling numbers

In his latest outing, Lugo brilliantly showcased 8 different pitches. The result gave him 9 strikeouts across 7 innings and only 3 hits allowed to the Detroit Tigers.

In the American League, this puts Lugo right in the early thick of the Cy Young race. With reigning winner Gerrit Cole sidelined, the honor is wide open for anyone else to snag. Only working against Lugo are the lack of strikeouts. Now just 23 in 38 innings, he has relied on much more than the whiffs and painting the corners for outs.

Lugo to have this many innings already has plenty of irony considering how the Mets held him back for years and their ongoing problems with starters going deep right now. Jose Quintana finally reminded fans on Sunday that it is possible to record 24 outs in a single game. A positive turn for the Mets’ Opening Day starter, he and his teammates still have a long way to go before they can start having the kinds of numbers Lugo has posted with the 17-12 Royals in an amazingly competitive AL Central. Only the lowly Chicago White Sox are below .500 right now. They’re below .215.

In his various roles in the big leagues, Lugo has had to adjust throughout. Now a starting pitcher in his mid-30s, we should expect the evolution to continue. Of all the Mets who left the team in free agency, Lugo is one of the few fans still have reason to enjoy. Although expressive of his desire to start, he never made major waves. He grabbed the ball as needed from the bullpen. These last two years, he does it only every five or six days. It’s working.