PORT ST. LUCIE – Seth Lugo may be over 2,000 miles away from Mets spring training, but the right-hander is still making his case for a roster spot. Friday night, the Mets were watching as he pitched 5-plus scoreless innings against what was supposed to be a dominant Venezuelan lineup in Puerto Rico’s World Baseball Classic win.
“It can have an affect absolutely,” Sandy Alderson said Saturday morning. “You know the thing I like about the competition is that it shows you something you can’t get here, in spring training, that’s the intensity.”
Alderson said the Mets do have a scout in Guadalajara, Mexico watching the games, but the front office back here in Florida is also keeping an eye on what is happening with their players. Lugo was dominant, giving up one hit, to Miguel Cabrera, and striking out three. He did not walk a batter in getting the Puerto Rico team off to great start in what has to be considered an upset.
And it was no easy task.
The Venezuelan lineup featured Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez and Victor Martinez.
“Any time you face lineups like that you’ve got to stay with your focus,” Lugo told reporters in Mexico. “That’s what you do all season. It’s definitely going to help. I wouldn’t say it’s going to hurt me. I was happy to face that lineup.”
Alderson said that the WBC’s intensity is a great test for Lugo and other players.
“Sometimes it’s not just a playoff intensity, it’s like a Game 7 intensity,” Alderson said. “For a team like the U.S., if they had lost (to Colombia Friday night) they would be basically in a must-win game today. So you see something about how players handle that.
“You can’t recreate that here.”
Lugo showed the Mets he can get major league hitters out last season when he stepped into – and helped rescue – an injury-ravaged rotation. He went 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA over 17 appearances, including eight starts.
With the Mets rotation returning to camp healthy this season and the expected eventual return of Zack Wheeler, Lugo’s role is not yet determined. He and Robert Gsellman, who also stepped into the rotation last season, are seemingly batting to hold that fifth starter’s spot for Wheeler, who will begin the season in extended spring training.
In three Grapefruit League starts before he left to join team Puerto Rico, Lugo allowed three earned runs in seven innings with seven strikeouts.
The battle for the fifth spot has some pretty high stakes. After being burned by injuries to their starters last season, the Mets are planning on sending Lugo or Gsellman to Triple-A instead of the bullpen. They want to keep them stretched out and ready to step in just in case there is another serious injury this summer.
While Gsellman fits the Mets prototypical hard-throwing starter mold more than Lugo, there are some in the Mets organization that wouldn’t count him out of that fifth spot.
“He’s good,” pitching coach Dan Warthen said. “Nothing he does surprises me. He’s a good pitcher.”
Published at Sat, 11 Mar 2017 15:32:38 +0000