Unlike the last two Septembers, the Mets are playing meaningless baseball the remainder of the season. Still, the team refuses to tank.
After taking two of three from the Phillies earlier this week, New York has secured victories in the first two games of a four game series against the Reds to open up the weekend.
An important contributor from the Mets playoff run last season was on the hill Friday night, but this time, it was as a showcase for 2018.
“I had a game plan going in. I started a couple guys off slow, it felt good but I had the fastball working, so I stuck with that most of the game,” said Seth Lugo.
Lugo started off the game with a stress free first three innings, but in the third, the right-hander got himself into some trouble as the Reds loaded the bases and threatened with just one out.
The next two innings Lugo held the Reds scoreless, striking out Scooter Gennett to end his night on a high note after 84 pitches.
“It was a really good pitch,” Lugo said. “I woke up today and told myself I wanted eight. I came out after six and was upset. I’m still working to do more.”
Friday was a positive outing for the second-year starter, who was coming off four good innings during his last start in Houston before the wheels fell off in the fifth.
While Lugo has shown he can be effective as a major league starter, there are several caveats.
For one, he is going out there every fifth day with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament after choosing to rehab the injury instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery.
This has affected his spin rate significantly, and without a strong curveball, Lugo will struggle to hold down a major league starting role.
On top of his elbow issue, the Louisiana native is still working his way back from a shoulder impingement, which has led to fatigue and explains why he starts to fizzle out later in ballgames.
Should Lugo continue to pitch through his current injuries, his future in the major leagues may be as a long reliever. There’s no doubt he looks in command the first round or two through the order and that could translate well to the bullpen.
However, if he chooses to punt the 2018 season and work towards 2019, he could be a nice middle to back end of a rotation guy for New York in the future with a stronger elbow.
Back in July, the Cubs were said to be interested in Lugo and thought he had “breakout potential.” We saw some of that potential last season and during the World Baseball Classic before the injuries presented themselves.
So for Lugo and the Mets, they need to sit down and think about the future for their pitcher. Should they take the chance of him pitching with a weak elbow ligament or have him go under the knife and gear up for 2019?