A year ago, if you wanted to find Seth Lugo on Baseball-Reference or Brooks Baseball, you would have needed to know that his full name is Jacob Seth Lugo. A 34th-round pick in the 2011 draft, he wasn’t the guy whose name was being monitored for updates in those searches, which is fair enough since he flew under the radar during his minor league career.
Lugo didn’t make our list of the Mets’ top twenty-five prospects going into the 2015 or 2016 seasons and got one vote for twenty-fifth on the latter list from Jeff Paternostro. He didn’t make any of the big national top 100 lists during his minor league career, either. But last year, thrust into a role with the Mets that nobody had anticipated when the season began, he excelled.
In total, Lugo threw 64.0 innings and had a 2.67 ERA and 4.33 FIP. He struck out 6.33 batter per nine, a modest rate in this era, and walked 2.95. Lugo split his time between the bullpen and the starting rotation, and his ERA was nearly identical in both roles. His FIP was significantly higher as a starter, at 4.93 compared to his 2.68 as a reliever. And in case you missed it, the spin rate on his curveball has been made it of the most notable pitches of the Statcast era.
Lugo was excellent for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic as the team made it to the championship game and lost to the United States team. But even with Steven Matz’s status for the Opening Day roster still in question and Zack Wheeler’s role for the start of the season not yet determined, Lugo might not make the Mets’ starting rotation. If he does, he’ll presumably slot in behind Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Robert Gsellman. And if not, he should be valuable out of the Mets’ bullpen and available to make starts at some point during the season if necessary.