The New York Mets have a starting pitcher problem. They need to sign at least one because no one is sure whether Seth Lugo should be starting for the Mets. While the need in center field can be filled by Brandon Nimmo, the Mets still have a pressing need at starting pitcher. It should be filled by a free agent signing. But if not, the Mets have an in-house option to pitch. That in-house option is Seth Lugo. While he can be a solid starter, there is heavy debate over whether Lugo should be used strictly as a reliever. The Question of “Should Seth Lugo Be Starting For The Mets?” will be answered before Spring Training.
How He Looked In 2020
When you look at 2020s raw numbers, Seth Lugo is definitely at his best as a reliever. He pitched in 16 games this year, starting seven of them. Lugo threw 26 ⅓ innings as a starter and allowed 18 earned runs. He pitched to a 6.15 ERA as a starter. He really didn’t look that bad, it was more so just two extremely bad starts in September where he allowed six earned runs in each. Obviously, as a starting pitcher, you run the risk of having a few bad innings and really imploding. As a reliever, however, Lugo threw 10 ⅓ innings and allowed just three earned runs. Lugo had three saves and worked well out of the back end of the bullpen. Not to mention, his experience as a start makes him a solid long relief option if needed.
The Years Before 2020
Obviously, 2020 was an odd season. So using Lugo’s other splits is helpful to gauge when he’s at his best. The 2019 season is where Lugo really broke out as a strong relief option, pitching in 61 games, all out of the bullpen. Lugo pitched to a 2.70 ERA throughout the season and became the Mets’ primary closer when Edwin Diaz struggled. In July of 2019, Lugo did not allow a run. He pitched 12 ⅔ innings, allowing just five batters to reach base. In September, Lugo pitched to a 1.29 ERA over 14 innings and was two-for-two in save opportunities. 2019 is definitely the best argument for Lugo to remain in the bullpen.
Early in his career, Lugo came into the league as a starter. In 2016, when he first broke into the big leagues due to injuries to the Mets rotation, Lugo went 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 47 innings over eight starts. Even then, he pitched nine of his 17 games out of the bullpen. Lugo was a full-time starter in 2017 and was decent. He went 7-5 with a 4.76 ERA over 18 starts. Lugo switched to the bullpen almost completely in 2018. He made five starts and 49 relief appearances in 2018. He went 1-2 with a 3.91 ERA in his five starts. Out of the bullpen, Lugo pitched to a 2.30 ERA in 78 ⅓ innings. Further proving Lugo is better as a reliever over a starter. His numbers throughout his career really show that he’s more effective out of the bullpen.
When it comes to helping the team most, Lugo is definitely a reliever. He allows fewer runs and is overall more effective out of the bullpen. The Mets have holes to fill, and possibly more important than center field is starting pitcher. While Lugo is a possible option, he’s not as effective as Trevor Bauer or even a Jake Odorizzi type player. In addition to his effectiveness out of the bullpen, Lugo is still dealing with a partially torn UCL. With his injury, Lugo should throw an inning or two at a time, not 5 or more. So should Seth Lugo be starting for the Mets? That is a very big question. The Mets front office will answer it in due time. However, after an in-depth look, it is seen that Lugo is best used out of the bullpen, only being used as a spot starter when needed.