The days of seeing Seth Lugo start games for the New York Mets are growing more distant in our past. Lugo made regular starts for the club in 2016, a lot more in 2017, only a handful in 2018, and got another shot in 2020.
Heading into his final season of control, the numbers Lugo has as a starter and reliever tell the tale of a guy far more useful in the bullpen than from inning one onward.
The chance for Seth Lugo to start for the Mets has passed
In 38 starts, Lugo is 15-10 with a 4.35 ERA in 194.2 innings of work. It’s not horrific. But when compared to what he has done as a reliever, the evidence reminds us all that this was what he was destined to do.
Lugo has made 175 appearances out of the bullpen for the Mets, accumulated 235 innings, went 14-12, and pitched to a 2.72 ERA. He has held batters to a .205/.268/.323 slash line as a reliever compared to the .272/.320/.450 hitters have gone against him in games where Lugo started.
Every number suggests Lugo will remain in the bullpen for next season except for one outside of his control. It’s the number of capable starting pitchers the Mets already have on the roster.
Beyond Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, there are questions. Veterans Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker finished the 2021 season miserably. The younger guys, like Tylor Megill and David Peterson, have dealt with their own struggles as well.
Lugo, a bullpen hero for the Mets over the last few seasons, could conceivably become an option for the organization if they need to dip deep into their depth chart. However, given how important he has been as a reliever and the other options the Mets do have, it’s not something we should expect them to do until all other resources have been exhausted.
The Mets do have starting pitching depth beyond the names already mentioned. Jordan Yamamoto was brought in last offseason to give the club an option. Yennsy Diaz and Sean Reid-Foley also have experience as starters. Let’s not count out the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year either, Adam Oller.
In addition to all of these guys, we could always see Trevor Williams move from the long man role to starter if needed. Lugo may get a start for the Mets if they really need him to, but a permanent role in the rotation just doesn’t seem to be in the cards anytime soon.
In the past, Lugo has expressed his desire to work as a starting pitcher. He got one final shot at it in 2020, going 2-2 with a 6.15 ERA in his 26.1 innings across seven starts. Compared to the 2.61 ERA he had as a reliever in 10.1 innings of work, it was the final reminder everyone needed.
Of course, Lugo could always get starts elsewhere. His free agency after the 2022 season could lead him to another ball club where they do give him the chance to start games. He’ll certainly be an interesting free agent case next winter with multiple roles on his resume.