Major League Baseball
Mets-Braves preview
Major League Baseball

Mets-Braves preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 2:40 p.m. ET

ATLANTA -- Seth Lugo wasn't taken until the 34th round of the 2011 draft and he had a 6.50 ERA with Triple-A Las Vegas before making his major-league debut at age 26 with the New York Mets in July.

The unlikely rotation fill-in likely will have to continue his surprising success, though, if the injury-plagued Mets are to make it back to postseason.

Lugo, who faces the host Atlanta Braves on Sunday, is 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in four starts since joining the rotation by default. He is looking to build off a victory against Washington a week ago in which the right-hander gave up just one run on six hits over seven innings.

With Matt Harvey lost for the season and Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz ailing, the Mets have plenty of rotation holes to fill.


Lugo is helping plug one of them, taking Matz's spot.

"I think he's gotten stronger," manager Terry Collins said. "Those young guys have really been exceptional. They've really made a difference."

Lugo, a right-hander from Louisiana who pitched at Centenary College, relies on a curveball as his out pitch, but he can also crank his fastball up to 97 mph.

"I just tell myself, those are just hitters up there," Lugo said. "I don't think about the names on the backs of the jerseys."

Lugo has won his past three starts and has posted a 1.50 ERA in the stretch despite having to deal with a blister that needed patching by the training staff.

With the Mets off last Thursday after 16 straight games, Collins started veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon on regular rest against the Braves on Saturday night to give Lugo an extra day between starts.

"I just try to go out there and give the team a chance to win is all," said Lugo, who is 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 13 games overall. "If I stay in the strike zone, I think I have a chance." Right-hander Rafael Montero, another rotation fill-in, will start Monday in Washington against the Nationals, but the Mets are hopefully that they will have deGrom and Matz back soon.

Both deGrom and Matz threw off the mound for the first time Saturday since being shut down, with deGrom doing so casually in Atlanta and Matz more intensely in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

"I really, truly think that they both might be a part of this here real soon," Collins said.

DeGrom last pitched on Sept. 1, while Matz went on the disabled list Aug. 23.

"The main thing is to see how it reacts tomorrow," deGrom said. "It's calmed down a lot."

Lugo will be opposed in the series finale against the Braves by right-hander Williams Perez, who needs to make a positive impression to stay in the rotation.

Perez, who is 2-2 with a 5.47 ERA, lasted just 2 1/3 innings on Tuesday at Washington while giving up eight hits and six runs in his first start since straining his right rotator cuff in early June.

Perez was 7-6 with a 4.78 ERA last year as a rookie. He pitched four times against the Mets, going 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA.

The Braves snapped the Mets' six-game winning streak with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings Saturday night.

The Mets, who have won 15 of their past 20 games, need a victory Sunday in their last game at Turner Field to take their sixth consecutive series.


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