Seth Lugo has been a weapon for the Mets in the bullpen this season, but when asked Wednesday at Citi Field if he had thought about next year and what the future holds, he didn't hesitate.
"To be honest, I have," Lugo told SNY's Joe Kraus. "With the way I've been pitching this year -- fastball velocity and breaking ball command -- secondary, my third, fourth pitches. I'm throwing the ball better than I've ever thrown it. I've got more self-confidence than I've ever had. Some of the stuff I've thrown this year, I didn't know I had it."
"I think about the future, hopefully getting to that starting role I want to be in," Lugo continued. "I think I can maintain better stuff than I have in the past. I'm kind of excited to see what the future holds. Hopefully I can win a starting position sometime."
Lugo has started five games this season (posting a 3.91 ERA and sparkling 4.50 strikeout to walk rate in 23 innings), but the bulk of his work has come out of the bullpen, where he has a 2.61 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 55 strikeouts in 62 innings (38 appearances).
The fastball velocity Lugo alluded to is averaging the highest of his career, coming in at 93.7 MPH (up from the 91.1 MPH it averaged in 2017). Lugo's slider, curve, and changeup have also increased in velocity significantly. And he wants to see how that translates in the rotation, with his goal being to return there full-time.
"Be a starter, yeah," Lugo said. "Be a starter and be a good starter. I've been a starter before but I want to be a legit, big league starter that guys don't want to face. Other teams hope they miss me in the rotation, you know what I mean? That's the goal."
Barring trades, the Mets are expected to enter 2019 with starting rotation spots earmarked for Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Beyond them are Jason Vargas and Corey Oswalt. And Lugo feels like he has the stuff to be great in the rotation.
"You want to be a pitcher and you want to be the best at it," he said. "I feel like I've got stuff that can compete with guys like Jake (deGrom), (Aaron) Nola, (Max) Scherzer, and (Clayton) Kershaw. I feel like I've got some stuff really coming around -- more than I've seen in the past."