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Ahead of the curve, Seth Lugo is ready for the 2018 season

After locking down a spot on the Opening Day roster, Lugo enters the season as a key piece of the Mets’ pitching staff.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Following a breakout season in 2016 and an impressive appearance for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, 2017 proved to be a challenging year for Seth Lugo as he struggled to be consistent in addition to overcoming an elbow injury diagnosed as a partial tear in his UCL. After posting a 2.67 ERA, 151 ERA+, 1.094 WHIP in 2016, Lugo was unable to deliver the same results as his breakout rookie campaign. Seth Lugo put together a 4.71 ERA, 90 ERA+, and a 1.372 WHIP across 101.1 innings in 2017, a vast drop from what he had done the year prior.

Entering spring training, Lugo found himself in a battle for a spot on the Opening Day roster, whether it in a bullpen or starting role. After putting together an impressive compilation of work this spring, 2.87 ERA, 17 K, and a 0.96 WHIP in 15.2 innings, Lugo showcased his value to Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland. With Jason Vargas starting the season on the disabled list as he recovers from surgery to remove the fractured hamate bone in his non-throwing hand, Lugo was announced as the fifth member of the starting rotation.

When Vargas returns from the disabled list, Lugo will continue to provide value to the team as he can slot in as both a spot-starter and a long reliever in the bullpen. Looking at his season projections, both PECOTA and ZiPS believe he will more closely resemble the 2017 version of Lugo, not the dominant pitcher who helped the Mets earn a Wild Card spot in 2016. PECOTA projects Lugo as a spot-starter with a 5.14 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 7.68 K/9 and 3.34 BB/9 scattered across 116 innings. The ZiPS projections for Lugo include a 4.89 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7.37 K/9 and 2.41 BB/9 with a record of 6-8 in 120 innings.

As the season draws near, Seth Lugo will certainly have ample opportunities with the Mets to help solidify the rotation depth in addition to bolstering the bullpen. As with many in the Mets rotation, health will play a major role in Lugo’s season and, if healthy, he has the ability to be a dominant force in the back-end of the rotation.