Michelle Ioannou, MetsBlog | Twitter |
Give me Seth Lugo in the rotation. In fact, give me Seth Lugo in the rotation weeks ago.
Lugo was initially expected to begin the season as a starter, but it didn't come to fruition. In my opinion, he should have never been moved to the bullpen. And the Mets' rotation issues have been magnified with the performance of Matt Harvey prior to him being moved to the bullpen (and then traded), Zack Wheeler when he returned to the rotation from the minors, and Jason Vargas upon returning from injury.
Lugo has stepped up these past three seasons, including in the bullpen in 2018.
Let's rewind to his debut season back in 2016. You remember that team, right? Where everyone got injured and Lugo was called up in June to primarily be used out of the bullpen? He then ended up starting eight games, posting a 5-2 record. In a total of 64 innings in 2016, Lugo had a 2.67 ERA -- which was actually lower than his total ERA had been in Las Vegas -- a 4.33 FIP and a 1.09 WHIP. Not bad for someone who was not even supposed to be in the majors, never mind in a starting role.
The 2017 season did not begin as well as 2016 for Lugo, as he started it with a partial tear of his UCL that he sustained during the World Baseball Classic. I do want to note, though, that Lugo pitched phenomenally in the WBC, helping to lead Puerto Rico all the way to the finals, where they unfortunately lost.
Lugo did not make his 2017 debut for the Mets until June, and ended up pitching in 19 games. He went 7-5 with a 4.71 ERA, 3.95 FIP, and a 1.37 WHIP. Not the best numbers, especially when compared to 2016 (though his FIP was lower). But he did battle two injuries -- the above-mentioned UCL tear, and then a shoulder impingement that occurred in August. His ERA actually went down upon his return from his second injury, from 4.85 (4.50 FIP) to 4.41 (2.79 FIP).
Now let's enter into 2018, where Lugo has only appeared so far out of the bullpen. But boy, has he gotten the job done. In 15 games so far, Lugo has a 2.13 ERA (3.30 FIP) and 1.03 WHIP. His curveballs have been more abundant and stronger than ever, too -- throwing them a career-high 31.3 percent of the time. He's shown confidence on the mound. He did not complain about being sent to the bullpen. He is literally just doing his job, and getting that job done.
Those other guys who are actually starting, though? Not so much. Since Harvey is no longer on this team, I won't even spend any time on his 2018 Mets numbers, because none of us need to cry right now. Instead, let's look at Vargas and Wheeler's numbers -- because that's much more fun! (This is obviously sarcasm, for those of you who don't know me).
In six games so far this season, Wheeler has a 5.92 ERA, 4.62 FIP, and a 1.55 WHIP. Not pretty. This, however, looks fantastic compared to Vargas's numbers. Now I'm not going to lie, I had high hopes for Vargas. I thought that he would be a good addition to the rotation, and I was excited for him to get into the rotation after being on the DL. That excitement quickly disappeared.
In three games this season, Vargas has a 13.86 ERA, 8.90 FIP and a 2.67 WHIP. I wish I could say that Vargas looked better in his last start… but he didn't. There hasn't been any glimmer that things are going to get better for him, to the point that the Mets skipped his last turn through the rotation.
Based on all of these numbers, and based on watching all of these pitchers pitch so far this season, it seems like common sense that Lugo should be in the rotation rather than Wheeler or Vargas. It likely hasn't happened yet due to the value Lugo has brought to the bullpen. But with the way the rotation has performed, it might be time for a change.