The deGrom-Lugo Parallel
Back in 2010 when Jacob deGrom was drafted out of Stetson University as a shortstop, you would be hard pressed to find anyone in the Mets organization that truly believed deGrom would not only be a future Rookie of the Year, but also one of the top pitchers in baseball. In fact, deGrom wasn’t even seen as such when he was first called-up to the Mets in 2014.
At that point in time, the Mets were in a year of transition, and they were at the point of trying to figure out who could be a part of the team in 2015 when the Mets were really intent on becoming contenders. One of the players called-up was obviously deGrom who was was 4-0 with a 2.58 ERA and a 1.278 WHIP in seven starts in AAA. This was a marked improvement from the pitcher who was 4-2 with a 4.52 ERA and a 1.467 WHIP in 14 starts in AAA the previous year. During said 2013 season, deGrom had made 10 starts in AA going 2-5 with a 4.80 ERA and a 1.483 WHIP. Sure, there were reasons to expect he could eventually pitch in the majors. He was a four pitch pitcher that had a mid 90s fastball and a good slider.
When Dillon Gee went down with an injury, the 26 year old deGrom was called up to the majors to make a start in his stead. There was no timetable on how long deGrom was going to either stay in the majors or in the rotation. However, if push came to shove, the Mets were more inclined to move deGrom into the bullpen and let Rafael Montero stay in the rotation. At that point, Montero was seen as a much better and more polished prospect who had good command and was a groundball pitcher. What transpired was deGrom proved that his 2014 AAA season was no fluke. He went on to make 22 starts that season going 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA and a 1.140 WHIP en route to becoming the National League Rookie of the Year.
He had surpassed Montero who had not pitched as well in his opportunity and who dealt with some injuries thereby opening the door for deGrom to forever solidify not only his place in the rotation, but also the Mets plans.
Right now, the Mets have a pitcher in Matt Harvey who is injured, and that is going to open the door for a pitcher to get a chance to show that they are capable of being part of this Mets rotation. Much like in 2014, the prospects that are battling it out is a 26 year old in Seth Lugo who was never expected to be in this position and a 23 year old pitcher in Gabriel Ynoa who relies upon his control and groundballs to get outs. Much like in 2014, the Mets have deemed the younger pitcher to be the better prospect. In many ways, this could be the case of history repeating itself.
So far, Lugo has made one major league appearance. In that one relief appearance, he showed that he has the stuff to get hitters out at this level. Like deGrom, he has seemingly taken his game to the next level once he got called-up to the majors. Right now, the only thing that really separates him and deGrom is the fact that deGrom got his chance to establish himself in the major league rotation. Of course, it was easier for the Mets to give deGrom his shot in 2014 when the team was going nowhere. It’s a lot harder to justify such a decision when the team is in the thick of both the NL East and Wild Card races. And yet, with that in mind, the Mets should want to put the guys in the rotation that have the best chance to get batters out.
Arguably, that pitcher is Seth Lugo. He just needs to get the chance deGrom did to prove it.