Even when Seth Lugo was one of the better relievers in the Mets’ bullpen, he knew he could be a legitimate starter in the majors. After proving it last season with the San Diego Padres, the right-hander turned a robust free agent market to a three-year, $45 million contract with the Kansas City Royals.
The Padres signed Lugo last winter, giving him a chance to prove himself as a starting pitcher. He proved himself and the Padres right last year with a solid campaign. The now-34-year-old tossed 146.1 innings over 26 starts after not making a start since 2020.
The Louisiana native produced a 3.57 ERA (115 ERA+) with league-average strikeout rates and an incredible 6 percent walk rate. With a run value of 11, Lugo’s sinker proved most effective last season. The pitch undoubtedly helped Lugo induce ground balls at a 45.4 percent clip, good enough for the 66th percentile.
The right followed up his breakout season by opting out of the one-year, $7.5 million left on his deal. Entering the offseason, Lugo was undoubtedly an excellent bet to receive a multi-year deal. However, many reports indicated that there needed to be more competition for his services. This demand likely increased Lugo’s price by a substantial amount.
— Anne Rogers (@anne__rogers) December 12, 2023
Seth Lugo Is off to the AL Central
Lugo’s Usage as a Pitcher
Kansas City adds Lugo, who is nothing but a solid, mid-to-back rotation starter able to provide solid innings. While he might only get pushed a little further than 180 innings, Lugo can easily be one of the better back-end starters in the majors.
Additionally, he provides a versatile arm that can pitch multiple innings or in high-leverage situations out of the bullpen in the postseason. Teams often use up to three starters in the playoffs. Lugo’s experience in Queens makes him a likely candidate to shift to a bullpen role in potential postseason games. His versatility also offers some flexibility in the later years of the deal. As the deal progresses and Lugo gets further into his thirties, Lugo can shift back into the bullpen and still provide quality innings.
Lugo’s History of Elbow Issues
While Lugo passed a physical before the final deal, he has some injury concerns. Lugo’s 2023 calf injury seems like a thing of the past. But in 2017, he suffered a slightly torn UCL in his right elbow. Although it did not require surgery. That said, the Mets often used him carefully over the next several years due to the injury. That forced Lugo to undergo surgery to remove two large bone spurs in his right elbow in early 2021. While he struggled to rebound when returning later in the year, Lugo pitched great in the following two seasons and credits the surgery for improving the overall health of his elbow.
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