Seth Lugo: Future Seattle Mariners Starter?

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 27: Starting pitcher Seth Lugo
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 27: Starting pitcher Seth Lugo /

Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto has been quiet the past 2 weeks. The Mariners have made just 1 major addition to their pitching staff, signing Juan Nicasio. However, they still need major help in the starting rotation.

Thus far, there has been no shred of evidence that the Mariners are “in” on any of the big name free agent starters. They have not been linked to Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, or Alex Cobb, and lack the farm system to pursue the likes of Gerrit Cole.

In other words, Jerry Dipoto must go outside the box to add potential impact to his rotation. While many free agent starter remain unsigned, Dipoto has shown a reluctance to sign free agents to long-term deals. This means that a trade is the most likely route.

Finding a team that is willing to part with starting pitching at a reasonable cost is difficult. In fact, the Mariners will likely be forced to overpay for their guy. But Seattle needs pitching, preferably young pitching with good upside. Enter Seth Lugo.

Lugo, a 28-year-old right-handed pitcher, is currently the #4 starter for the New York Mets. After making a brief debut with the Mets in 2016, Lugo entered the rotation full-time in 2017 and found success.

In 18 starts, Lugo posted a 4.71 ERA but with a much more solid 3.95 FIP, over 101.1 innings pitched. Lugo also posted solid ratio stats, including a 7.55 K/9, 2.22 BB/9, and a 42% ground ball rate.

Lugo poses a good running fastball and a promising curveball. The fastball sits at 92 mph but has reached 95 on occasion. The real value in Lugo comes from the ridiculous spin rate on his curveball. Lugo currently holds the record for spin rate on a single pitch, as one of his curveball’s produced an astonishing 3,498 rotations per minute.

Lugo’s curve took a bit of a step back in 2017, but it is still a solid above average offering. He also throws a change-up and slider, though both lag behind the fastball and curveball. Another plus for Lugo is the versatility of his contract situation.

Lugo is still 2 years away from arbitration, meaning he has 5 years of club control remaining. He also has 2 minor league options remaining, giving the Mariners more roster flexibility in season.

The cost for Lugo is tough to pin down. The Mets, much like the Mariners, are stuck in no mans land. Not good enough to be World Series contenders, not bad enough to sell.

The Mets could use some bullpen help, so perhaps there is something there. The Mets also have a poor farm system, so perhaps a trade of a reliever and a decent prospect or two could do the trick.

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One thing is absolutely certain: the 2018 Seattle Mariners need starting pitching, and they need it badly. If they are unwilling to spend money on free agents, and unable to make the big trade for Gerrit Cole, they need to get creative and take some chances. Seth Lugo fits that mold.