Seth Lugo, RHP
Player Data: Age: 28, B/T: R/R
Primary Stats: 54 G, 101.1 IP, 2.66 ERA; 1.076 WHIP, o.8 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 9.1 SO/9, 103 K, 3 SV
Advanced Stats: 2.1 bWAR, 1.4 fWAR, 138 ERA+, 3.17 FIP/3.48 xFIP
Free Agency: 2023
2019 Salary: Pre-Arb
Seth Lugo was the Mets’ everyman in 2018. The right-hander pitched primarily out of the bullpen, with 49 of his 54 appearances coming out the pen. After mostly starting games in 2017, Lugo transitioned almost seamlessly into the bullpen.
He was thrown into the fire early and often by Mickey Callaway, who was rewarded with success. Lugo pitched to a sterling 2.30 ERA in his relief appearances. In the five games he started, he pitched to a respectable 3.91 ERA. Because of this and the fact that newly-acquired starter Jason Vargas struggled mightily, there were more than a few calls from fans to replace Vargas with Lugo in the rotation.
However, the Mets’ bullpen, which also struggled, badly needed Lugo’s arm in relief. As a result of these struggles, Lugo and fellow starter-turned-reliever Robert Gsellman quickly became trusted ‘pen options for Callaway.
Lugo’s 0.8 HR/9 was the lowest of his career. His 103 strikeouts were a career-high. He pitched 101.1 innings in 2018, the exact same number as in 2017, when he primarily featured as a starter. Interestingly, Lugo was better against lefties this year, holding them to just a .180 BAA and .293 SLG, compared to a .243 BAA and .350 SLG. against righties. Lugo also showed that he is capable of pitching multiple innings in relief, which he did in many appearances in 2018.
Lugo was the Mets’ best reliever in 2018. His success in his new role makes him worthy of a high grade.
Lugo along with Gsellman are likely the only two relievers from 2018 who are guaranteed a spot on the 2019 Mets. They will be key pieces as the Mets try to rebuild their bullpen
There will likely be more calls for Lugo to be slotted into the rotation next year, especially if the Mets do not sign acquire another starter over the offseason. Although it was reported that Lugo would train as a starter during the offseason, Lugo probably provides more value coming out of the bullpen, given that it was by far the team’s biggest weakness in 2018.
Lugo has the potential to be a the new-school reliever that can go multiple innings and get big outs. While he may not have the same level of talent as Josh Hader or 2016 Andrew Miller, who are the prime examples of that kind of reliever, Lugo does have good enough stuff (particularly his excellent curveball) to be the mid-t0-late inning swingman the Mets badly need.
Look for Lugo to be one of the more valuable Mets in 2019 in years to come.