Seth Lugo’s return couldn’t have come at a better time for the pitching-depleted New York Mets.
It was only a few weeks ago that Seth Lugo returned to action, no longer dealing with the partial UCL tear that he suffered while pitching for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. You’d better believe that the Mets are happy to see him back on the mound.
Lugo is a starter that manager Terry Collins can rely on. He’s been solid over three starts thus far, going 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA over 19.1 innings of work.
Unlike pitchers like Harvey and Syndergaard, Lugo wasn’t considered a big-time prospect. A 38th round pick in the 2011 draft, it took Lugo five years before he made it to the big leagues.
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It didn’t take long for everyone to know that Lugo might be something special once he arrived.
What helped him get—and stay—in the majors? His curveball. It’s a pitch he used to make an MVP-caliber player, Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo, look silly in his first big-league appearance last season.
If that wasn’t enough, Lugo went back to his curveball in late August when he faced Miami’s Xavier Scruggs. The pitch he threw set a new MLB record for spin rate (3,498 rotations-per-minute), more than 1,400 rotations above the MLB average curveball.
Pitches that rotate that much are nearly impossible to get a piece of. Last year, major league hitters were hit just .154 with a .217 slugging percentage against curveballs over 3,000 RPM.
He’s continued to rely on his curveball since returning from his injury.
Lugo showed the Mets what they were missing when he made San Francisco’s Hunter Pence fall down as he tried to hit his curve. It didn’t rotate as much as it usually does (only 2,982 RPM), but it got the job done.
Here's that Seth Lugo curveball that made Hunter Pence look silly. At 2,982 RPMs, it was actually a below-average spin rate for him. pic.twitter.com/kODJhuflWJ
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 24, 2017
Lugo isn’t the sexy flamethrower that is going to strike out 12 batters a game. That’s just not his style.
He’s sturdy enough to eat innings and pitch deep into games, yet versatile enough to pitch effectively out of the bullpen. Most importantly, Lugo is consistent. The Mets know what they’re going to get from him when he pitches.
Had Lugo been healthy earlier this season, maybe the Mets would have been able to weather the slew of injuries that hit the rotation. Had he been available, maybe they wouldn’t be 11.5 games back in the NL East or 11 games out of a wild-card berth.
The Mets—and their fans—should be ecstatic that Lugo is once again back on the mound. If the team is going to make a late push to get back into the playoff picture, they’re going to need a healthy Lugo to lean on every fifth day.