PHOTO CREDIT: Seth Lugo's Wikipedia Page
Just as the 2016 season ended, I wrote a Professional 3 on Tumblr in November. I stated that I think, with the loaded rotation going into the 2017 season for the Mets, that Zack Wheeler needs to be come out of the bullpen. I felt that way solely to keep him from over-exerting his surgically repaired elbow in his return to the Majors after a two-year layoff. After seeing feedback from die-hard Met fans that I was out of my mind and absolutely insane for thinking that, Mets sources started reporting that Wheeler might be coming out of the ‘pen after all.
I’m not as insane as people think.
Regardless, even with that, the Mets still have 6 spots open for 5 starting pitchers. I’m not a big proponent for the often-rumored six man rotation that always has been tossed around. Although it’s not out of the realm that it won’t happen, I’m a stickler for the simplistic starting five. With that said, if I was a betting man, the five-man rotation would be Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Robert Gsellman.
There is one man left out of this equation. There’s a reason for that. I’m about to make a statement that might pique a few people’s interests.
SETH LUGO SHOULD BE THE LONG MAN FOR THE METS BULLPEN IN 2017.
#67 has been a fantastic addition to the Mets from the 2016. Coming up on July 1, 2016, Lugo spent time in both the bullpen and starting rotation. In 17 games, he went 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA, getting 45 strikeouts and surrendering 49 hits over 64 innings of work.
With the Mets having more than enough pitching on paper to have a healthy 2017, my mind is to utilize Lugo in a different role throughout the season. If I were Mets management, and trust me, I’m far from it, I’d give this method a shot. I have three reasons on why I’d roll with that path into 2017.
VERSATILITY: Last year, Terry Collins and the Mets really gave a taste of Lugo’s ever-changing role with the staff. Lugo started off in the bullpen and ended up lasting nearly a month and a half going up and down from the big leagues back to Las Vegas. When Steven Matz ultimately went down for the season with his elbow issues, Lugo took over his spot in the rotation and held down the fort, leading the Mets to that Wild Card game.
For Lugo, being a long man would help establish his ability to work out of any spot needed for the Mets. An emergency spot start? Lugo could fill in there. Come into the game to pitch the 7th inning exclusively? Lugo could do that? Fill in a few innings early if one of the starters gives up serious runs or gets hurt? Seth Lugo could be that guy. Dillon Gee should have been this in 2015. Daisuke Matsuzaka couldn’t stay healthy to achieve that in 2014. Seth Lugo is a guy that can pull that off.
NO WORRIES ABOUT PITCH COUNTS: One noticeable trait about Lugo and being a young player on the Major League level is the pitch count level. Throughout September, Lugo extended himself a ton throwing a lot of pitches throughout the first five innings of games. Allowing Lugo to come out of the bullpen would help showcase the fact that he wouldn’t need to truly focus on pitch counts. Similar to Zack Wheeler in my previous blog, Lugo would not have to strain his brain trying to exert a lot more energy on watching his pitches. Just let him go and throw a few innings wherever he’s needed.
PROTECTING HIS ARM LONGER FROM HIS PERSISTENT USE OF THE CURVE BALL: Lugo has become a man heavily known for his incredible curve ball, thanks to the spin action he is able to utilize when he throws it. In late August, Lugo set a Major League record in the Statcast era for the best spin on his curve, measured at 3.498 RPM. He has become known quickly throughout MLB for that pitch. I genuinely believe this move would be perfect to further protect Lugo’s arm from over-usage and keep his health intact. Crazy? Maybe. But the ability to harm his elbow with a wicked pitch as that could happen. The long man role would, hopefully, keep Lugo healthier and active longer.
Seth Lugo is a wonderful pitcher to me. He doesn’t throw too hard and has showed he can help a team in need down the stretch. Hopefully he gets to be the long man of the Mets and really showcase his talents in different roles for the ballclub. Plus, with a lot more focus going into bullpens during these days, Lugo would be a perfect guy that could thrive in this role.
Let’s Go Mets.