With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie for the Mets in just four days on February 17, it appears that the Mets will be short a bullpen arm in Seth Lugo out with bone spurs for the start of the 2021 season.
In yet another season where anything and everything is up in the air for Major League Baseball, the injury bug is already biting the Mets and camp isn’t even open yet.
Early this morning, ESPN reported that Mets reliever Seth Lugo would have elbow surgery on Tuesday to remove bone spurs in his right arm. This means he will not be ready for Opening Day 2021.
Q: How does this change the Mets’ gameplan moving forward?
Undoubtedly, the news that the likely 8th inning man for the Mets being out for the entirety of Spring Training is a setback for the team. Seth Lugo has been one of the few consistent arms out of the bullpen for the Mets over the past few seasons, posting a career 3.45 ERA over 5 seasons in Queens. His best season being in 2019 where he posted a 7-4 record out of the bullpen and a 2.70 ERA.
The Mets bullpen certainly takes a hit with the loss of Lugo. As the Mets move forward, the addition of Trevor May in the offseason may prove to be vital.
The Mets bullpen moving forward will likely include Edwin Díaz in the closer role, as expected. The 8th inning will likely go to the newly acquired Trevor May. The 7th will likely go to Dellin Betances until Lugo returns.
Q: Is Lugo’s bone spurs something Mets fans should be concerned with?
Well, the simple answer to this question is yes. As a baseball fan, any elbow injury to a player, particularly a pitcher is concerning. However, this is a common occurrence and seldom is a telling sign of something worse underlying.
Many pitchers have had bone spurs in their throwing arm in the past. In recent years, the Mets have seen Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz go down with bone spurs. Both of them at the same time, in fact in 2016.
In this case, both players either had undergone Tommy John surgery in the past or went on to undergo the surgery. Steven Matz had undergone the surgery in 2010 and Syndergaard went on to have the surgery last offseason, causing him to miss the entirety of the 2020 season. This, of course, is the worst-case scenario for the Mets.
The best-case scenario is that Lugo heals and returns to peak form. We have seen this in the past with players like the great Mariano Rivera. He, too, had bone spurs early in his career, yet he never had Tommy John.
Q: What is the timetable for Lugo’s return?
That question is one that we are still unsure of. Here is what we do know, though:
We know that Lugo will be out for at least 6 weeks from Tuesday where he will be unable to throw due to the bone spurs. This is worrying for Mets fans, as Opening Day is just over 6 weeks away. 6 weeks is not the timetable for Lugo’s return, though. In 6 weeks, Lugo will be able to throw again. As we well know, players need time in Spring Training to get themselves “ramped up” and ready to go.
In all likelihood, it will probably be approximately 8 weeks before the Mets see Lugo back on the mound. It’s very well possible that he does not take the bump at Citi Field until May with a rehab assignment in the minors mixed in.
Assuming Lugo has no further setbacks, he should miss minimal time in terms of regular-season games. We never know what will end up happening in the coming days and weeks with Lugo’s condition, but this is far from the worst-case scenario to this point for New York. While it is a minor setback, he is a reliever, so hopefully, he can return much faster than he would if Luis Rojas planned to use him out of the rotation in 2021.
The Mets are still in a good position to succeed in 2021. They just need the injury bug to stay away from them beyond Lugo. Only time will tell, though, when Lugo returns. One can only hope that it’s just bone spurs for Seth Lugo, and nothing worse.