Lugo, 27, was brilliant against a strong Venezuelan lineup last week, tossing 5.1 scoreless innings and allowing just one hit (a single), no walks and striking out three including big-leaguers Martin Prado and Victor Martinez. He out-pitched Felix Hernandez in what would be the performance that earned him the start against the stacked Team USA on Friday.
Lugo, likely #7 on the Mets starting pitching depth chart, has been building a strong case for why he should be moved up on that list. After mowing through a Venezuelan lineup that also included the likes of Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Alcides Escobar, and Odubel Herrera, he will face an even larger task in facing Team USA.
“He’s a strike-thrower,” Collins told Mike Puma of the NY Post. “We saw it last year, we saw it during the season and ultimately when we get down toward the end [of camp], when we decide where we are standing in our bullpen and need a guy that can perhaps give you some innings, he might be in that mix.”
After extensive injuries to the Mets’ rotation in 2016, Lugo stepped in and posted a 5-2 record, striking out 45 batters and walking 21 with a 2.67 ERA. His curveball was almost immediately regarded as one of the better in the league, especially once StatCast revealed it has the fastest spin rate in the game.
If the season were to start today, the Mets rotation would probably be Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Robert Gsellman with Zack Wheeler in extended spring training and Seth Lugo in Triple-A Las Vegas. Lugo has an uphill battle to fight as even though he is pitching very well against very good teams, his Mets teammates are also faring very well in spring training. Even if he starts the season in the Minors, there is no doubt that Lugo could play an important role with the Mets at some point during the season.