Every pennant winner needs that player who comes out of nowhere to fill a huge void, which is exactly what the Mets have in Seth Lugo. More to the point, where would they be without him?
Lugo has given the Mets’ rotation a sense of stability after injuries to Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. Lugo, who joined the rotation Aug. 19, was superb in Sunday’s 10-3 rout of Atlanta, giving up two runs on six hits in seven innings.
Now 4-2 with a 2.40 ERA, Lugo figures to get three more starts and if he runs the table could tie deGrom with seven victories in his rookie season.
“He has a feel for pitching,” said manager Terry Collins. “He knows how to get a ground ball to get out of trouble. You see him bear down and his fastball gets a little better.”
If there was a turning point, it came in the fourth, when the Mets held a 6-1 lead but the Braves had the bases loaded with one out. However, Lugo got Dansby Swanson to ground into an inning-ending double play.
“He mixes his pitches well,” said catcher Rene Rivera. “When he gets a runner on base, he focuses and executes.”
The Mets were never seriously threatened from then on.
Lugo’s domination on the day the Mets said good-riddance to Turner Field was the clear storyline. The others were Collins’ questionable handling of two of his key injured players and finally, some production, from James Loney.
MORE COLLINS HEADSCRATCHING: Less than 24 hours after Collins took the blame for not running for Wilmer Flores only to have him thrown out, and injured, on a play at the plate, he foolishly kept the gimpy Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes in a blowout game despite the expanded rosters.
Cabrera has been playing with a sore knee and Cespedes a bad quad – injuries that forced both to the disabled list in the second half of the season – so you would think Collins would use every opportunity to rest them.
For all practical purposes, the competitive aspect of the game was over when the Mets took a 10-1 lead in the fifth.
Even so, Cabrera and Cespedes remained in the game despite the expanded rosters.
Collins said they wanted to stay in the game to beg the question: Who is managing this team anyway?
Heading into Washington for three games against the Nationals, who would like nothing better to cap the division with a sweep of the Mets, and on a stretch of 19 straight games without an off day, it’s beyond foolish to keep players coming off injuries in a blowout game.
LONEY RESURFACES: When Lucas Duda went down with a back injury, the Mets caught a break when they picked up Loney.
He’s been solid defensively and hit .294 in June and .280 in July, but only .213 in August.
However, he’s been warming up in September, and Sunday went 2-for-4 with a double and homer
Nobody can say for sure if Duda will return, so it would be important to have a hot Loney for the last three weeks.