When I first saw Seth Lugo last year I was confused. I saw a guy going from 88 mph to 96 mph on his fastball and breaking off an insane curveball. To add to that he seemed to have good command of his pitches. I was confused because I follow the Met’s Minor League teams all season and I never saw any stats jump off the page from him and never saw him anywhere as being a top pitching prospect in the Mets system. How could a guy who can change speeds that drastically on his fastball and have that curveball not dominate minor leaguers ? I guess that is the key to being good in the Major Leagues for Mets pitchers. Be pretty good in the minors then let it all out once you get to the show. Lugo began in the bullpen, pitched reasonably well and then got his chance to start August 19th vs the San Francisco Giants. He pitched well in a loss, going 6.2 innings giving up 3 runs. From that point on the Mets did not lose a start Seth Lugo pitched. 7 huge wins in the middle of a wild card race with Lugo going 5-0. My new favorite guy to root for had arrived.
What I loved about Seth Lugo from the start was 2 things. The first was his stuff, it was unique in this day and age and caught my eye. First his fastball, besides Justin Verlander I can not think of another pitcher who climbs the ladder of velocity with his fastball like Lugo does. He runs a 88-91mph 2 seamer up there that has great sink to get ahead or induce a ground ball. From there he has the ability to reach back with a 4 seamer and I have seen him touch 97 mph with it. That in itself boggles my mind that he can do that when he wants and I am sure it makes hitting off him pretty uncomfortable. What is even better about Lugo is the fact his fastball is an after thought when compared to his most famous pitch, the curveball.
I call it famous because Lugo is a hero in the advanced statistic world. His curveball has the best spin rate of all time since Statcast has been charting these type of things. Not only is Seth Lugo’s spin rate the best ever it is by a margin of about 10%. To show how good his curve is his average spin rate was 3,318 rpm while the Major League average was 2,386 rpm. What excites me even more is despite these measurements Lugo feels he can throw it even better. I love the prospects of Lugo for this season and in the future because of this curveball. Not only is his unreal but the 12-6 curveball is nearly extinct in baseball. Very few guys throw one any more as most guys have ditched the hard to control 12-6 curveball for a tighter slider. Due to hitters not seeing this pitch much less one of the quality of Lugo’s I think Lugo’s success last season is legit. He reminds me honestly of a Young Adam Wainwright which is high praise.
The second thing I love about Seth Lugo is his ability to get the big out. He has the mental toughness to bear down and make big pitches when he needs them and that is the most important trait for any pitcher. Considering what Lugo has went through to even get to the big leagues it makes sense he has this trait.
Seth Lugo’s career nearly ended before it even got started. He was drafted in the 34th round out of a small Division 3 at the time Centenary College. He had a 5.57 Era there so how the hell did he get drafted anyway ? Somehow he intrigued a local scout enough to get himself invited to a Met’s workout 2 weeks before the draft. In typical legend Lugo form he just happened to throw the hardest he ever had and hit every corner in that workout. This guy knew how to step up in the big spot right from the get go. He got drafted off that workout and began his trek to the Major Leagues. Disaster struck in the form of back pain that sent Lugo to the Doctor’s where they discovered he had Spondylolisthesis. Basically one of his vertebrae in his back slipped out-of-place. As a someone who has had 2 back operations due to a car accident this story hit home for me and made me root for Lugo even more. He was forced to undergo a Spinal Fusion surgery which took 10 hours and he could not move for 3 months. The Doctor told Lugo that he may never be able to pitch again. Lugo fought back and was more focused than ever to achieve his goal of becoming a major league pitcher. Anyone who has ever dealt with this type of situation knows how depressing and demoralizing it can be. As a guy trying to make it as a professional athlete it is unreal the determination he displayed to not only recover from that injury to get back to functioning normally but to get back to top athletic form and excel in the Major Leagues.
Seth Lugo is currently pitching for team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and what else would we expect but Lugo winning games and stepping up when his team needs him. This is why I love Lugo and I know whether he starts for us or comes out of the bullpen he is going to battle and get big outs.
He is my kind of guy.