The injury-riddled Mets have slowly been getting some key players back onto the field. Recently one of the team’s top relievers in Seth Lugo has returned off of the 60-day injured list. The 31-year-old righty got injured in the latter part of the offseason and his return is coming at one of the most perfect times as the Mets’ current roster is completely depleted. Now that he is back, what role/roles can he play for the Mets?
Lugo made his season debut on Wednesday and he came in for the 5th and 6th innings. This was a decision I don’t think Luis Rojas and the rest of the coaching staff necessarily wanted to make, but rather a decision that they were somewhat forced to make after David Peterson had an off night. I certainly do not expect Lugo to be the Mets’ 5th/6th or 7th inning guy going forward this season unless what happened on Wednesday was to reoccur.
One option the Mets have with Lugo is to have him as the set-up man to Edwin Diaz. So far it has been a revolving door on who is the 8th inning guy. Miguel Castro, Jeurys Familia, Aaron Loup, and Trevor May have all played in this role so far this season. May has been the one that has been getting on the field most at this point in the game. I think May has the capability of doing some really great things for this bullpen for the next couple of years, but recently he has not been playing well at all.
Having Lugo as the solidified 8th inning pitcher would let Diaz continue to be the team’s closer and in a position he is already comfortable in, plus it would let the other usual high leverage players in this bullpen be put in lesser pressure situations. In addition, if Lugo is the 8th inning reliever full time he will probably be able to go every time he is called upon to come on the mound. For the past couple of seasons, the right-hander has mostly had an off day after he pitched multiple days the day prior. His being strictly used for the 8th inning would likely get him more playing time. The Mets as a team are not going to win every game so Lugo probably won’t be used in games that the team is losing in, this would correlate to resting days for him and allow him to continue to pitch on a regular/consistent basis.
Another way the Mets can go with Lugo is for him to split time with Edwin Diaz as a closer. Diaz has been the closer for the Mets since he was acquired before the 2019 season. It has been greatly documented about his struggles and the numerous blown saves he has had throughout the past years. Diaz undoubtedly is having a much improved 2021 season. Lugo though has also closed about a couple of games in the last few years. In 2019 when Diaz was not at his best, Lugo along with Justin Wilson alternated the 9th inning for a stretch of games. Diaz is best when he is well-rested. If and when the Mets go on a winning streak of some sort or they are playing close games late in the ball game, having two closers would be a big help. If this is the route taken it would also allow the other big arms in the bullpen to play in spots that they have normally been in for the last two months. Having Lugo, who is known to be reliable, seeing the field late in ball games has to be considered. Again, it would help Diaz.
On occasion, if a spot start is needed Seth Lugo can fill in and be in his desired position as a starter. But him being on the mound for either the 8th or the 9th inning is an ideal spot for him to be on the mound.