Mets right-hander Seth Lugo will undergo elbow surgery to fix a broken bone spur on Tuesday, the team announced. The issue was discovered after Lugo had been suffering from elbow inflammation during his offseason workouts. Lugo won’t begin throwing for at least six weeks following his procedure, so he will surely begin the season on the injured list as he continues to build up arm strength.
Lugo posted a 5.15 ERA over 36 2/3 innings for New York in 2020, beginning the season in the bullpen but then starting his final seven outings. Advanced metrics indicate that he pitched better than that 5.15 ERA would indicate, as Lugo’s numbers were skewed by two very poor starts against the Phillies and Nationals (Lugo was touched for 12 runs over three total innings) and a big home run rate. The righty had a 3.29 SIERA and very strong strikeout (29.4%) and walk (6.3%) percentages, while also posting a 48.5 grounder rate and some elite curveball spin.
A 34th-round pick for the Mets back in 2011, Lugo rose through the organizational ranks and broke into the Show as a starter in 2016-17, and also made five starts during the 2018 season. For much of 2018-19, however, Lugo was a very effective reliever out of the Amazins’ bullpen, and he was slated to return to that role (perhaps with the odd spot start) in 2021. While it doesn’t seem like Lugo’s surgery is overtly major, it obviously isn’t a good sign for him to miss such a big chunk of Spring Training, and he’ll need at least a month to properly prepare and ramp back up.
With Lugo gone for at least some time at the start of the season, Robert Gsellman and the newly-acquired Jordan Yamamoto look like the Mets’ top options for rotation depth should one of their projected starting five also suffer an injury prior to Opening Day. The Mets are still reportedly looking into starting pitching options, and if a new arm is added, Joey Lucchesi will likely be the odd man out who is moved into the bullpen.