The Seth Lugo love affair with New York Mets fans isn’t as untamed as it was a few years ago. Lugo was embraced in 2018 and 2019 as one of the most specialized weapons out of the bullpen in recent memory. During a time when Mets relievers struggled mightily, we could always count on Lugo to get through one, or two, or possibly even three innings.
That just isn’t the case anymore. Lugo has become a one-inning reliever. Still effective at times, he’s far from a DFA candidate or even someone you’d send to the minor leagues to “figure things out” for two weeks.
No. While the Lugo we used to know has fallen from grace, he can still get the Mets outs—just not was regularly as he once could and in a completely different style.
Mets reliever Seth Lugo isn’t the specialized weapon he once was
Lugo had 46 appearances and 46.1 innings of work last year. He’s on pace to do pretty much the same in 2022 but with hopefully more of each if he can avoid any IL stint.
This is much different from the 80 innings he gave the Mets in 61 games back in 2019—all in relief. Mickey Callaway used Lugo much differently than Luis Rojas or Buck Showalter ever did/have. It’s not so much about strategy as it is about his health and what he can or cannot do.
There’s still a long ago Lugo argument that could be made about his usage and certainly something we can ponder. Lugo made it clear years ago about his preference to be a starting pitcher. The Mets had very little patience for him in this role after some struggles starting in 2020.
This season, Lugo has been pushed into action regularly as one of the few healthy setup men for closer Edwin Diaz. Confidence in him has dispersed. He’s coming off of a very average 3.50 ERA performance last year and currently holds a 3.81 ERA after 28.1 innings pitched. Better than the average major league relief pitcher, he’s much closer to replacement level than he once was.
In possibly his last year with the Mets due to his impending free agency, Lugo’s time in New York still has time to end on a high note. The team is playing better than it ever has since he became a regular contributor. Although he was around for 64 innings in 2016, the team’s early exit from the postseason after one game removed any chance of us seeing him pitch in the postseason.
Lugo may be past his prime but perhaps under the brighter lights he can end strongly with this team. His free agent fate could lead him anywhere. As one of the longest-tenured Mets players, even the fans who have grown frustrated with him will be hoping for some postseason redemption.