The Mets have moved left-hander Steven Matz to the bullpen and will shift setup man Seth Lugo back into a starting role, manager Luis Rojas revealed after last night’s game (Twitter link via Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News). Lugo will take the ball to start tonight’s game.
The 29-year-old Matz was excellent in his first start of 2020 but has since been clobbered for 22 runs on 28 hits (eight homers) and five walks in just 17 innings. He hasn’t gotten out of the fifth in any of his past three starts and is toting a 9.00 ERA in 23 frames overall. Lugo, meanwhile, has once again been sharp out of the ’pen, with a 2.61 ERA and an 11-to-2 K/BB ratio in 10 1/3 frames. By subtracting him from the late-inning mix, the Mets are betting that others like Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Brad Brach, Dellin Betances and most importantly Edwin Diaz will be able to find consistent success as games draw to a close. Lugo has a career 2.53 ERA and 2.88 FIP in 188 2/3 relief innings, compared to a 4.06 ERA and 4.16 FIP in 168 1/3 innings as a starter.
It’s the latest shakeup in a Mets season that has been punctuated by rotation troubles. The Mets believed they’d stockpiled a strong group of starters, one through six, but only Jacob deGrom has performed as hoped. Noah Syndergaard didn’t pitch after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May, and Marcus Stroman opted out of the 2020 season entirely. Matz has stumbled through one of the bleakest stretches of his career, while reclamation projects Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha haven’t paid dividends. Porcello, to his credit, has had some rough luck on balls in play and pitched much better since a disastrous Mets debut. Wacha is on the injured list due to shoulder inflammation.
The Mets’ options beyond that sextet have long appeared to be lacking, although 2017 first-rounder David Peterson proved to be a bright spot … until he landed on the injured list due to shoulder troubles of his own. It’s notable that a recent MRI confirmed that there’s no structural damage in Peterson’s shoulder (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand), but he still won’t be an option until next week.
Aside from Peterson, fallback options like Corey Oswalt and Walker Lockett haven’t impressed. The club has instead shifted Robert Gsellman and now Lugo back into the starting mix. It wasn’t long ago that there was some spirited debate over whether that pair would be starters or relievers for the long haul. Both settled in as bullpen pieces, with Lugo in particular emerging as a high-end option. But the inadequacies among current Mets starters have now forced both right-handers back into the rotation picture.
Lugo will join deGrom, Porcello, Gsellman and (once healthy) Peterson in a rotation that can’t resemble anything the Mets’ front office might have anticipated heading into the season. But for all their pitching woes, the Mets remain in the playoff hunt thanks to a strong offense that ranks second in MLB with a 122 wRC+. They’ve rattled off three straight wins, and while they’re sitting at a pedestrian 12-14 on the year, the good news for them is that the rest of the NL East looks similarly underwhelming. The Braves lead the way at 14-11, but their own rotation has been decimated by injury, leaving ample space for the Mets to close the mere two-and-a-half game gap that separates them.
Given that the Wilpon family is reportedly deep in the process of fielding offers to sell the club, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Mets approach the looming Aug. 31 trade deadline with a clear buyer’s mentality. This could be the last opportunity for current ownership to secure the World Series title that alluded them when they fell to the Royals in 2015, and it only stands to reason that they’d take one final shot while they have the chance.
As for Matz himself, his future is decidedly murky. He could be a potential change-of-scenery candidate with the deadline looming, and even if he sticks with the Mets, he’ll have limited opportunities to turn things around as a low-leverage bullpen option. He’s on a $5MM salary for the 2020 season and will be arbitration-eligible for a third and final time this winter. It’s hardly a given that the Mets will want to allocate the necessary resources to retain him through the arbitration process.
About time Lugo’s in the rotation he could be a #2 or 3 starter and the rotation is a disaster area. Lugo is a very different pitcher than he was in 2017.
because he could blow his load in 1 inning but if you have to stretch it out to 5+ innings he has to hold back a bit and those high 90s now become low to mid 90s and become much more hittable.
Are we really sure he could be a two or a three? We don’t really know that. I have my doubts.
With two and a half good relievers other than Lugo, the bullpen’s likely to be just as much a disaster area.
He has been so good out of the pen he’d have to be well above average and very healthy to be more valuable in the rotation than he is out of the pen, and even then it’s not possible he’d be significantly more valuable.
That’s the real problem: There’s almost no way Lugo in the rotation will prove to be more valuable than the difference between Lugo in the bullpen and the performance of the guy who has to come up from the minors and cover his innings.
Fact is, this is another weak Mets move, where it’s “heads they tie, tails they lose” by moving Lugo into the rotation.
Hey Mets fans:
Do you think that the Front Office would accept one of Lauer or Anderson, plus Hader, for Dominic Smith and JD Daves?
Fills two huge holes for us and gives you a back end starter and a closer at very low cost. .
I’m not very up to date on the Mets, but I did see the Nationals blow Matz up twice this year. He just didn’t look right. I was wondering if he was tipping pitches.
Matz can only throw his fastball for strikes and even then, rarely hits the glove. It was only a matter of time until the league figured that out.
BIG BIG MISTAKE. With HIS ELBOW PROBLEMS YOU REALLY RISKING HIS HEALTH.
Agree with everything but the yelling.
He calmed down at with, but it was a momentary pause.
Was taking a breath
Lugo is a great reliever but I dunno how it’ll play up when he’s expected to go 5 innings plus… anyway, millions of Met fans are now getting their wish. The BP is going to be a disaster.
Marvel's MAGA Man
Going to ruin Seth Lugo.
Mets going to Mets themselves.
Rarely does switching a guy from relief to starting work. Tends to hurt careers more than helps, especially in recent memory.
Daniel Bard, Brandon Mauer, Neftali Feliz come to mind.
Dont forget Joba which Lugo reminds me of
Biagini as well
Maybe Brandon Morrow as well.
Gonna assume you meant Brandon Morrow and not Maurer(who didn’t make a pro start above rookie ball). Morrow had a 9.8 K/9 and 102 ERA+ in his three years starting in Toronto, averaging about 150 IP a season. Not world beating numbers but a solid 2 WAR a year pitcher.
Feliz and Bard aren’t great comps either because a)they were both one-inning guys when they tried to transition them to starting and Lugo has been anything but that; and b)Seth has started games as recently as 2018; both Feliz and Bard were several years removed from regular starting AND those starts were in the low minors, not MLB games like Seth has started.
which Maurer were you thinking of? Brandon was a starter all through the minors and as a rookie.
Marvel's MAGA Man
No I meant Brandon Mauer.
Padres acquired him in 2015 for Seth Smith
And he had a stellar 2015 season for them.
53 games, 3.00 era/3.31 fip, 1.059 whip, 51 innings. 6.9 k/9 and 2.6 bb/9
2016 spring they tried to stretch him out as a starter. Didn’t go so well.
Was not as good in 2016 after trying to switch him back.
Hasnt Lugo got a partially torn ligament which was why the Mets didnt like using him 2 days in a row? Not a good move. Very solid in the Bullpen so leave him there.
Hopefully, they only use him as a short starter kind of guy. More of a 3-4 inning work a load a game rather than a full one with his injury concerns.
But then why use him as a starter at all if he can’t go 5 innings?
Not saying that it would have been the best of ideas, but considering his health concerns, it would limit the risk on his arm.
I’d prefer they not mess with success… I have visions of Joba Chamberlain in my head. If they wanna use him as an opener, fine. But no more than 2 innings.
The way the game is structured these days, you probably only get 5-6 innings every 10 days out of him in 3-4 appearances.
Why not get two 4 inning starts out of him in 10 days instead?
There’s an unspoken rumor that the Mets can obtain any Red sox starter….
Is that a threat?
You can probably get said Red Sox starter for a package of Ed Charles and Ron Swoboda….
Kirk Nieuwenhuis For MVP
Nothing I saw from Lugo as a starter really convinces me that he belongs there rather than the bullpen. That’s admittedly a lot to read into 31 starts though, and he has definitely refined his approach as a pitcher since then. I just wonder how much of that has been driven by the role he’s in, and whether he’d be overexposed going back into the rotation.
I also just don’t have much faith in the rest of the bullpen at this point. Diaz has mostly worked in low leverage situations so far, and he doesn’t have the multi-inning flexibility that Lugo does.
I thought Gary Cohen was going to have a stroke because Rojas didn’t use Lugo. With all of the problems with their starters and because they have a load of former closers in the bull pen doesn’t it make sense to go in this direction? I wonder if Cohen placed his name as a candidate when the Met’s were looking this winter for a new manager. He is always managing in the booth. I guess he is trying to compete for the title of baseball’s number one second guesser.
The Human Rain Delay
Hate this move
Really think the 2 inn Rp was the way to go with him, so valuable and he excelled in it (Andrew Miller 2.0)
Id love for the Dodgers to make a move for this guy and solidify him in the pen-
Would probably take a Dennis Santana or Mitchell White and Andy Pages type package but Im cool with that for 2.5 yrs of Lugo
This is more foolishness from the Mets.
Any benefit Lugo offers towards compensating for BVW’s ludicrous offseason he’ll cost in bullpen performance while increasing his risk of injury by moving to a starting role.
This is a typical, Mets “heads we break even, tails we lose” move, that at best keeps them treading water and at worst cost them their best, most reliable reliever..
At least they giving him a chance to start, that’s what he always wanted.