Matt Harvey may have been the focus during a frigid Tuesday night victory against the Philadelphia Phillies, but it was Seth Lugo’s two perfect innings of relief that caught everyone’s attention.
With a two-run lead that felt tenuous at best heading into the seventh, Mickey Callaway asked the 28-year-old righty to bridge the gap between a shaky AJ Ramos appearance and Jeurys Familia. Lugo, whose turn in the rotation was skipped due to Monday’s snow day, may have been taking some of his frustration out on the Phils, as he mowed down six consecutive batters.
Of the 22 pitches Lugo needed to complete the desolation, 19 were strikes, with 10 of the swinging variety. On a night where the temperature certainly could have affected a pitcher’s grip on the ball, every one of Lugo’s pitches seemed to be particularly effective.
Against Carlos Santana, arguably Philly’s best and most patient hitter, Lugo showed off two of his most impressive pitches. On a 2-1 count in the 8th, he made Santana flinch with a two-seam fastball that started near his head and dove back over the plate for a strike. He then tossed this spin-rate fanatic’s wet dream for his fourth and final strikeout of the game.
This is the curve that Seth Lugo used to whiff Carlos Santana in the 8th tonight. This is the good stuff, man. This is the high-grade product. pic.twitter.com/oZzdogeup3— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) April 4, 2018
Lugo’s appointment to the fifth starter role after Jason Vargas’ wrist injury at the close of Spring Training was a welcome surprise; he had clearly out-performed his competition with a 2.87 ERA, 0.957 WHIP, and 17 K’s in 15.2 innings. Callaway had assured the media and fans that the Mets would be a meritocracy from the day he became the manager, and he put his money where his mouth is with Lugo. And though the season is still in its infancy, his decision is already paying dividends.
If Lugo can find more consistency and remain healthy in 2018, he could be a tremendous asset to a Mets team that just lost Anthony Swarzak to an oblique injury, just called Hansel Robles up from Triple-A, and is generally always clamoring for more pitching depth. He has shown flashes of brilliance during his career, the spin-rate on his breaking ball is world class, and if harnessed appropriately and consistently, his curve can be a devastating out pitch that elite relievers require.
If this is the Seth Lugo we're going to get in 2018, he may be more valuable than we ever realized.