Seth Lugo

Curtis Granderson Believed This Would Happen

After the 2013 season, Curtis Granderson was really a free agent for the first time in his career. While Granderson was always durable, he was coming off an injury plagued season that was the result of getting hit by two pitches. In the prior to season for the Yankees, Granderson was coming off consecutive 40 home run seasons. In fact over that two year stretch, Granderson led the majors with 84 homers. With that in mind, Granderson was one of the most coveted free agents on the free agent market.

To that end, it is surprising that a player like Granderson who had mostly played for good teams in his career would opt to go a Mets team coming who never had a winning record since moving to Citi Field. Moreover, it was surprising that a power hitter like Granderson was so willing to move to the cavernous dimensions of Citi Field.

And yet, Granderson signed a four year deal to become the Mets right fielder. Why?

Well as Granderson told MLB Network during their 30 Clubs 30 Days feature on the Mets, “I was optimistic it was going to happen. Sandy Alderson and the Mets organization told me about the young guys – the Matz’s, the Syndergaard’s, I had see Harvey, the deGrom’s – and all of a sudden here they are. Not only are they here but they’re here to stay. They all piggyback off of each other and do an amazing job.”

Either Sandy did a great job selling, or Granderson just has an eye for talent because heading into the 2014 season things were not that optimistic.

Matt Harvey‘s incredible 2013 season was cut short with him needing Tommy John surgery. Noah Syndergaard was not yet dominating in the minor leagues despite having terrific stuff. Steven Matz was just coming back from pitching after what had been an arduous Tommy John rehabilitation.

Now, Zack Wheeler was coming off a promising season, and Rafael Montero promised to be the next big thing. While Granderson mentioned Jacob deGrom, if we are being honest, no one knew what he was yet. Certainly, not the Mets as they had deGrom lower on the depth chart than Montero.

Despite all of that, Granderson was right, it has all worked out. Even better, the Mets have pitchers like Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo who have developed into good pitchers while Granderson has been a Met. Behind them are pitchers like Thomas Szapucki and Justin Dunn.

Back in 2013, this was the image of the Mets Alderson presented to Granderson. To his credit, Granderson bought in and signed with the Mets. To Alderson’s credit, he not only delivered, but he keeps delivering.

As Granderson enters the last year of his four year contract, it is important to remember he was the first free agent that believed the Mets could one day be World Series contenders. Not only did he sign with the Mets based upon that belief, but he has also been an important contributor to this Mets team both on the field and in the clubhouse. In many ways, the Granderson signing was a pivotal moment. It was the time that the Mets starting the process of going from a rebuilding team to a World Series contender. It was also the time when someone started believing in this team.

Dreading the USA v. Puerto Rico WBC Matchup

In international competition, I am an American, and as such, I will always root for the USA to prevail.  In the Olympics, I root for the USA regardless of what Rangers are playing for the other country.  I love Henrik Lundqvist to death, but I would root for an American team full of Islanders, Devils, and Flyers if it was ever a USA-Sweden gold medal match.

The same goes for the WBC.

Surprisingly, the closest ties USA has to the Mets is Daniel Murphy and Tyler Clippard, both of whom were on the 2015 pennant winner.  Mostly, the USA roster is full of players you would rather not root for as a Mets fan.

There’s Eric Hosmer whose name cannot be mentioned in my house anymore.  I loved watching Michael Conforto take Danny Duffy deep in the World Series, but to be honest, Duffy got the last laugh.  Tanner Roark is a National, who also did all he could do to help blow the 5-0 lead against the Dominican Republic.  While I generally like both Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, when seeing them play, you cannot help but be reminded of the heartbreaking loss in the Wild Card Game last year.  Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton have been a thorn in the Mets side on a Marlins team that seemingly exists just to be a Mets spoiler.

Overall, while I have found USA to be a likeable team, there are enough players there that harbor bad memories.

The Puerto Rican roster, on the other hand, is full of players I absolutely love.

Carlos Beltran may be the next Mets player inducted into the Hall of Fame.  T.J. Rivera grabbed a hold of the second base job last year after a number of injuries left the Mets searching for a capable player at the position as the team was fighting for a Wild Card.  Rene Rivera helped Noah Syndergaard improve as a pitcher last year.

Worse yet, Seth Lugo is going to start against the USA in what should prove to be an incredibly important game.  Lugo was an vitally important pitcher who helped get the Mets back to the postseason last year.  He may prove to once again be an extremely important pitcher for the Mets next year whether he is in the rotation, the bullpen, or both.  As a Mets fan, you do not want to see Lugo get bashed around by the USA in the WBC.  Rather, you want to see him continue to improve and be in the best possible position to help the Mets next year.

Not to be wishy-washy, but you hope that Lugo pitches well and the Americans still win.

And yes, despite all the Mets ties to Puerto Rico, including Angel Pagan, who was once a pretty good Met, I am still rooting for the USA tomorrow night.  Mostly, I am rooting for the USA because I am an American.

Also, ever since Aaron Heilman delivered that ill fated pitch, I can never bring myself to root for Yadier Molina.  At least in that respect, my Mets fandom and country pride are aligned.

Go USA!

WBC Reminds You Of David Wright’s Greatness

On the dawn of the World Baseball Classic, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard made some waves when he stated, “I’m a Met. Ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or the World Series playing in the WBC.” (Abby Mastrocco, nj.com).

Judging from attendance at Spring Training, Syndergaard’s belief is not something that is universally shared in the Mets clubhouse. Jose Reyes is one of the few major league players that have appeared in all four WBCs. He is joined on the Dominican Republic team by Mets relievers Hansel Robles and Jeurys Familia.

Fernando Salas threw his first pitch this Spring for Mexico. Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini have been stars for Italy. Seth Lugo and T.J. Rivera, two players arguably fighting over the last spots on the Opening Day roster, are playing with Mets back-up catcher Rene Rivera for an undefeated Puerto Rico team. Ty Kelly is both fighting for a potential roster spot and for a spot in the semifinal for Israel.

Point is, while Syndergaard doesn’t believe in the importance of the WBC, many of his teammates do. That includes team captain David Wright, who said, “Everybody has their right to their own opinion, and obviously Noah doesn’t think too highly of it. But I do. So I’m not sure if it’s just a different mentality, and I’m not sure if there’s a right or a wrong. But getting a chance to represent your country, and put that jersey on, and hear the chants of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A’ — that’s one of the highlights of my career. (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).

It should be noted Wright wasn’t calling out Syndergaard like the time he and Bobby Parnell threw Syndergaard’s lunch in the garbage. He wasn’t singling out Syndergaard either noting other great players like Clayton Kershaw have opted not to play in the WBC without having to face the same scrutiny Syndergaard has. Rather, Wright was merely trying to speak to what the WBC has meant to him.

It certainly was one of the highlights of Wright’s career. In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Wright sent USA to the semifinals with a walk-off hit against Puerto Rico. In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Wright would loom even larger. He hit the decisive grand slam against Italy that helped propel the United States back to the semifinals. In the 2013 tournament, Wright hit .438/.526/.750 with two doubles, a grand slam, and 10 RBI. Wright was named as the third baseman to the All WBC Team. If not for his intercoastal injury before the semifinals, who knows if USA wins the WBC that year?

Among USA players in WBC history, Wright is second all-time in games played, third in hits, second in doubles, and first in RBI. He is a ,333/.400/.458 hitter in WBC history. He had two huge go-ahead late inning hits that propelled the USA into the semifinals. It is why Wright was dubbed Captain American. Overall, you cannot discuss the greatness of Wright’s career without mentioning the WBC.

It is an event that has mattered to Wright as much as any moment in his career. As Wright said, “Up to this point if you say, ‘Hey, what’s the most fun you’ve had on a baseball field?’ I’d say the World Series. But I would say in the conversation of cool things that I’ve gotten to do on a baseball field, the World Baseball Classic is toward the top of that list for sure.”

Overall, during Spring Training and the WBC, Wright has been noticeably absent. As his health issues continue to linger and keep him off the field, the 2013 WBC and 2015 World Series seem farther and farther away. However, those moments should not serve as the epilogue to a great career for a great Met. Rather, they should serve as highlights.

Deep down, each and every Mets fan must hope Wright has another chapter left in him. It may not happen in the WBC. It may happen in the World Series. And it may just happen this year.

USA Is Just Not As Invested In the WBC As The Rest Of The World

This is not meant to be critical of players or their patriotism.  It isn’t.  Players, especially pitchers, have a certain shelf life, and no one should tell them to risk everything for a one month international competition.  Perhaps Noah Syndergaard put it best when he said, “I’m a Met. Ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or the World Series playing in the WBC.”  (Abby Mastrocco, nj.com).

If you go down the line, you will probably hear similar responses from the other players that did not play.  The problem is most of them are American.

The reigning Cy Young Award winners are Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.  Neither are pitching, but to be fair Scherzer was slated to pitch before he suffered an injury.  The runner-ups were Jon Lester in the NL and Justin Verlander in the AL.  They aren’t pitching either.  Third place?  Kyle Hendricks and Corey Kluber respectively.  The two pitchers who started Game 7 of the 2016 World Series aren’t on the USA roster.  Dig deeper.  The best pitcher in baseball right now is Clayton Kershaw.  He’s not on the roster.  The best clutch pitcher in all of baseball right now, if not all time, is Madison Bumgarner.  He’s not on the roster.

This speaks to the absolute depth of the starting pitching among Team USA.  Arguably, the crop of starting pitchers on the USA roster right now is their 7th best option.  Maybe even worse.  And yet, they pitched brilliantly.  Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, and Danny Duffy went out there and pitched as good as or better than any of the aforementioned pitchers would have pitched in that spot.

But then comes the bullpen.  As loaded as the USA is in the rotation, they should be just as loaded in the bullpen.  Zach Britton is coming off a historically great season, but much like the AL Wild Card Game, you are not going to see him pitching against a foreign opponent.  Addison Reed, a pitcher coming off a season with a 1.97 ERA isn’t on the roster.  It could be argued Wade Davis is the best closer in all of baseball, and yet, he isn’t on the roster.  The closest USA comes to having a terrific closer on the roster is Mark Melancon, who is on the provisional roster.

I kept thinking about all the aforementioned pitchers while Tanner Roark, a pitcher who wouldn’t make a squad of the best American born pitcher in the National League East, was getting tattooed by the Dominican Republic.  Oddly enough, it was the one pitcher for USA you trusted the most, Andrew Miller, the one who definitively belonged on the roster, was the one that ultimately blew the save.

Sure, you could have hoped USA scored more runs after jumping out to a 5-0 lead.  You could argue that the best young players in the game Mike Trout and Bryce Harper went to Spring Training instead of competing in this event.  You also wonder how much of an impact USA not bringing their best players had an impact on American born Manny Machado playing for the Dominican Republic.  You wondered a little more as he hit a Tanner Roark ball nearly out of the gigantic Marlins Park.

Personally, I was wondering what the heck Jim Leyland was doing with his lineup.  Two of the better hitters on the team, Andrew McCutchen and Daniel Murphy, were stapled to the bench while Eric Hosmer was batting fifth.  Mind you, Hosmer could very well be the worst hitter in that lineup.  He’s certainly the bottom two or three on the roster.  These are the things that happen when you name Leyland manager instead of giving the chance to Willie Randolph, a man who has had success at the major league level and in international play.

Seriously, aside from Buster Posey and perhaps Nolan Arenado and Ian Kinsler, you could argue the best USA players and coaching staff stayed home.  This is why USA has not won a WBC to date, let alone appear in a final.  And yet, in some strange way, it speaks about how much better USA is than the world in baseball.

In Olympic basketball, USA brings its best players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and yet, the team has to sweat it out to win Olympic Gold.  In hockey, Canada is absolutely stocked top to bottom.  Arguably, the team it leaves home would win Olympic Gold, and yet each Olympics teams constantly push Canada.  In the WBC, USA isn’t sending near its best, and they are having to play tougher games than expected.

Teams like Colombia try to keep their hopes alive with a gutsy performance from Nabil Crismatt.  Puerto Rico’s ace is Seth Lugo, a pitcher who can’t even find his way onto an All-American Mets starting rotation.  Israel has transformed Josh Zeid, a pitcher the Mets would not re-sign to a minor league deal, into their version of Andrew Miller.

USA may not have their best, but they have players like Adam Jones who well up with pride putting on the uniform and representing their county.  This is a roster full of players that are easy to root for and are good enough to win the WBC.  As an American and as a baseball fan, I’m happy these players chose to play, and they deserve to win it all because even though they might not be the best American players, they are the best team in the WBC.

Trivia Friday – Mets Top 25 Prospects

Last year, we saw players like Seth Lugo graduate from prospect status as he played enough innings to no longer qualify as a rookie.  If he qualified, he would have been highly ranked on the Mets top prospect list heading into this season.  Do you know who the top 25 prospects are in the Mets farm system right now?  Good luck!


Nabil Crismatt Harol Gonzalez David Thompson P.J. Conlon Ricardo Cespedes Josh Smoker Chris Flexen Gregory Guerrero Merandy Gonzalez Luis Carpio T.J. Rivera Ali Sanchez Marcos Molina Peter Alonso Wuilmer Becerra Tomas Nido Andres Gimenez Brandon Nimmo Gavin Cecchini Justin Dunn Desmond Lindsay Thomas Szapucki Robert Gsellman Dominic Smith Amed Rosario Gabriel Ynoa

Five Prospects Who May Contribute In 2017

Last year, we saw Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and T.J. Rivera become significant contributors to a Mets team who claimed one of the two National League Wild Cards.  Their contribution was as pleasant as it was surprising.  In fact, no one truly could have predicated the slate of injuries that befell the Mets last year.  This year?  Well, that’s a different story all together.

With David Wright already questionable for Opening Day, and the Mets prospects performing better in Spring Training than many originally anticipated, many fans question not if, but when will we see these prospects contributing for the Mets.  With that in mind, here are five prospects, who have yet to appear in a major league game, we may very well see at Citi Field in 2017.

#1 David Roseboom

Once Akeel Morris was traded to the Braves for Kelly Johnson, Roseboom became the closer for the Binghamton Mets last season.  Roseboom blossomed in the role and made it an eight inning game for the B-Mets.  He saved 14 out of 15 games while posting a 1.87 ERA in 52 games on the year. From July 2 to the last regular season game on September 5, Roseboom held opponents to a .130/.193/.383 slash line, and a 0.92 ERA.  This work has caught the Mets attention, and he was a non-roster invitee giving the Mets coaching staff an opportunity to get an up close look at him.

At a minimum, he could very well be the second left-handed reliever the Mets covet in the bullpen.  With the struggles we have seen from Josh Edgin this Spring, that could be sooner rather than later.

#2 Paul Sewald

What is interesting about Sewald is his terrific results have not gotten him the attention he deserves.  Seemingly every pitcher struggles in Las Vegas, and yet in the second half, Sewald converted 10 save opportunities while posting a 1.85 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP.  While naysayers will point to his high 80s to low 90s fastball, Sewald has clearly shown the ability to get batters out even in the most difficult of pitching environments.  As teams go through multiple relievers year-t0-year, it may only be a matter of time before Sewald finally gets his well earned chance to pitch in the majors.

#3 Dominic Smith

This Spring, we have already seen Wright become questionable for Opening Day, and Lucas Duda need shots in his hip and have back spasms.  For a Mets infield that already had injury questions to start the season, things are already progressing quite poorly.  The Mets have talked about experimenting with Jay Bruce at first.  Wilmer Flores has already shown he can be part of an effective platoon there as well.  Neither player is the long term answer.  That’s Smith.

Smith is a terrific fielding first baseman who reported to his first major league camp in the best shape of his professional career.  So far, the only concern about him is if he will hit for power.  He quieted some of those concerns in the final 58 games of the season.  During that 58 game stretch, Smith hit .355/.426/.537 with 16 doubles, one triple, seven homers and 42 RBI.  Extrapolating that over the course of a 162 game season, that would translate to 45 doubles and 20 home runs.  That type of production can definitely play at first base especially when Smith has the promise to do even more.

#4 Amed Rosario

Across baseball and the Mets organization, Rosario has been dubbed a superstar in the making.  The only question is when his star will begin shining at Citi Field.  Arguably, he is further away from Citi Field than Smith as Smith played a full season in Binghamton last year.  Moreover, you probably want to give both players until the All Star Break before you even begin to consider calling them up to the majors.  And yet, as Michael Conforto proved in 2015, if you are a truly special talent, you can come to the majors and contribute for a World Series caliber team in the thick of a pennant race.

In Rosario, the Mets have a game changer in the field and at the plate.  Should any infielder go down, room can be made for Rosario.  Certainly, Asdrubal Cabrera has shown in his career he can play second and third.  Also, do not discount the Mets trying to play Rosario at third this season so he can become more versatile, and quite possibly open a spot for him on the major league roster this year.

#5 Chris Flexen

Arguably, this spot could go to P.J. Conlon, but Flexen is on the 40 man roster.  Also, Flexen pitched a full season for St. Lucie last year, whereas Conlon only pitched half a season there.  Another issue is Flexen’s stuff plays better in the bullpen as Flexen has a mid-90s fastball and a plus curve ball.  If the Mets were to be willing to move Flexen to the bullpen, he can rocket through the Mets system.

In addition to Conlon, another name to consider is Corey Taylor.  He’s got terrific stuff, and the minor league closer is already drawing Jeurys Familia comparisons.  Overall, the Mets farm system has plenty of players who should be able to contribute at the major league level at some point next year.  It should give you some hope the Mets should be good in 2017 even if there is a rash of injuries.  It should give you more hope that the Mets should be good in years to come.

Editor’s Note: I consulted Michael Mayer while making my list, and he pointed out to me he wrote a similar column for Mets Merized Online.  His list is slightly different as he includes Champ Stuart.  As Michael is one of the most knowledgeable people on the Mets farm system, please give his article a read as well. 

The Other Mets in the WBC

After last season, Mets fans became aware of who Gavin Cecchini, Ty Kelly, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and T.J. Rivera were. While we may have been aware of who they were, Mets fans got to see Rene Rivera and Fernando Salas up close and personal for the first time.  Naturally, you are well aware of who Jeurys Familia and Jose Reyes are.  Still, there are some other Mets participating in this edition of the World Baseball Classic that most Mets fans are going to see for the first time.  Here’s a a look at those players and what we may expect to see

C Xorge Carrillo

Country: Mexico

2016 Level: Binghamton & Las Vegas

2016 Stats: 85 G, 327 PA, 290 AB, 28 R, 79 H, 14 2B, 4 HR, 25 RBI, CS, .272/.347/.362

The 27 year old Carrillo is a catcher’s catcher.  He is a good receiver behind the plate, and he has a good, not great, throwing arm that allows him to control the running game.  For his defensive skills, he was recently given a Gold Glove in the Mexican Pacific Winter Leagues.

At the plate, Carrillo shows a good eye at the plate, but not much pop.  While you can argue his glove is major league ready, his bat probably isn’t.  Still, Carrillo is a hard worker that has shown the willingness to do whatever is necessary to improve his game.  Considering Mets fans once saw the likes of Mike Nickeas serve as a back-up catcher at the major league level, it is not impossible that Carrillo could one day get a chance in the major leagues.

RHP Nabil Crismatt

Country: Mexico

2016 Level: Brooklyn, Columbia, Binghamton

2016 Stats: 1-4, 2.47 ERA, 13 G, 7 GS, SV, 65.2 IP, 74 K, 0.883 WHIP, 10.1 K/9

MMN Rank: 26

The 22 year old Crismatt has been an interesting pitching prospect since the Mets signed him as a non-drafted free agent out of Columbia in 2011.   Crismatt has never had dominating stuff with his fastball typically sitting between the high 80s to the low 90s.  With that said, he’s able to get batters out because he knows how to pitch.  He has clean, easily repeatable mechanics.  While he does not have a blazing fastball, he is able to locate the pitch well.  He gets the most out of his fastball because he has a terrific change-up.  He gets the most out of both pitches because he knows how to attack hitters to not only get a high number of strike outs, but also get a good number of ground balls.

The Mets did not protect Crismatt from the Rule 5 Draft last year, and he wasn’t selected.  The Mets may not be so lucky the next time around.  Crismatt has shown he can thrive as a starter and as a reliever.  At the moment, he projects as a major league reliever.  With that said if he can develop a third pitch to be on the level of his fastball and change-up, he may very well be able to thrive in a major league rotation.

Certainly, aside from these prospects, I’m sure the player most Mets fans have the most interest in seeing play during the World Baseball Classic is Yoenis Cespedes‘ 19 year old brother Yoelkis.  Unsurprisingly, Yoelkis has been dubbed a five tool player.

Please Televise All Spring Training Games

Ever since T.J. Rivera lined out to Denard Span, it has been an excruciatingly long offseason.  Somehow, we have navigated through the offseason, and now it is Spring Training.  Finally, on Friday, there was a game being played.  On what was a pleasantly surprising Spring day in the middle of February, there was a baseball game being played.  It was the perfect day for baseball.

It gets better.  Michael Conforto was being allowed to hit against a left-handed pitcher.  Gavin Cecchini was playing second base.  Gold Glover Juan Lagares was going to be patrolling center field.  Personal favorite, Seth Lugo, was getting the start.

Wait, it gets better.  Uber prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith were slated to appear in the game.

This is the type of day where you align your lunch with the game.  You get in your car to listen to Howie Rose do the play-by-play.  You find a place to eat where you can watch an inning or two.

Except, you can’t.  With the Mets traveling to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox, the game was not going to be televised.  Typically speaking, road Spring Training games are not telecast for a myriad of very justifiable reasons.  With that said, it would have been nice to watch some of the game during lunch, and it would have been great to watch the replay with my son when I got home.  However, I didn’t get that opportunity because, like the revolution, this game was not televised.

With baseball looking for more and more ways to improve the sport, it should find a way to televise all of their Spring Training games.  At the very least, it would be an olive branch to your most die hard fans who may take real issue with the rule changes you want to put in place.

Trivia Friday – Most Mets Starts Since 2011

With the Mets trying to decide what to do with pitchers like Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, it is likely the Mets are going to need both of them to make starts at different parts of the year as no team goes through the season with just five starters.  To that end, the Mets have used 31 pitchers since Sandy Alderson took over as general manager.

Can you name the Mets pitchers who have made the most starts in that stretch?  Good luck!


Jon Niese Dillon Gee Bartolo Colon Matt Harvey Jacob deGrom R.A. Dickey Noah Syndergaard Zack Wheeler Mike Pelfrey Jeremy Hefner

The Case for Seth Lugo As The Fifth Starter

With many analyzing who should be the fifth starter, there seems to be two camps emerging.  The first camp believes Zack Wheeler should be the fifth starter.  The main basis for this argument, and it is a compelling one, is his 12 start stretch from July 6th – September 7th, 2004 where he was 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA, 1.213 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9.  Understandably, many believe Wheeler can return to this form.  If so, he is a natural choice for the fifth starter.

The second camp believes Robert Gsellman should be the fifth starter.  Gsellman has vaulted up many top prospect lists due to the stuff he showed at the end of last season.  Like Wheeler, Gsellman was throwing 95 MPH.  Like many young Mets starters, he showed a developing slider.  Unlike Wheeler, Gsellman had the opportunity to pitch in September games that mattered.  With the Mets needing all the wins they could get, he was 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9.  There is every reason to believe the 22 year old can build on this success, and as a result, he should be the fifth starter.

The Mets are justified in going in either direction, and yet, perhaps, the Mets should go in a different direction.  For a multitude of reasons, the Mets should start the year with Seth Lugo in the Opening Day rotation.

The biggest argument you can make for Lugo in the rotation is his curveball.  There has been much written about it this offseason because it could very possibly be the best curveball in the game, at least if you use spin rate metrics.  His curveball naturally belongs on a staff that features some of the best pitches in baseball from Noah Syndergaard‘s fastball to Matt Harvey‘s slider to Jacob deGrom‘s change-up.  And yet, Lugo is more than a curveball.  He has a fastball he can throw as high as 97 MPH if the situation merits.  Like Gsellman, he is improving his slider.

He used this repertoire to pitch extremely well despite extremely difficult circumstances.  With the Mets fighting for the Wild Card, and him not having pitched more than three innings since May, he was thrust into the starting rotation.  Despite those hurdles, Lugo was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA, 1.149 WHIP, and a 5.6 K/9 as a starter.  With Lugo being put in a better position next season, with him using his curveball more, and him further developing his slider, he promises to be an even better in 2017.

The obvious question is whether he would be a better option than Wheeler or Gsellman.  Arguably, even if Lugo isn’t better, perhaps he should be in the Opening Day rotation anyway.

Based upon the Mets handling of Harvey, the team is likely going to want to limit him somewhere between 160 – 180 innings last year.  Given his not having pitched in two years, there is a real debate if Wheeler can do even that.  Even assuming he can pitch that long, assuming he averages six innings per start, that’s only 27-30 starts.  This would leave the Mets needing to find approximately five more starts.

Then there is Gsellman.  If you subscribe to the Verducci effect, 30 more innings would mean Gsellman’s cap is 189.2 innings.  If he averages six innings per start, he would come close to lasting a full season.  With that said, the Mets would still probably need to find a few more spot starts.  That is even more the case if the Mets plan on using Gsellman in the postseason rotation.

Lugo can take the brunt of these starts to begin the season.  This would permit the Mets to ease Gsellman or Wheeler into the rotation a month or two into the season.  This would allow the Mets to allow either Gsellman or Wheeler to enter the rotation without having to be concerned about their innings.

As for Lugo, he could then move to the bullpen thereby giving the Mets another potentially dominant late inning reliever.  And, if needed, we already know the Mets can rely on him for a spot starter if needed.

Ultimately, the best case scenario for the Mets would be to start the year with Lugo in the rotation.  And who knows?  Based off of what we saw with him last year, he may prove to be the best option for the rotation for the entire season.