Lugo’s change was used marginally in 2019 (6.5%) and was mostly average all around (.741 OPS against). The pitch shows less-than-average depth but good armside movement and gets below average chases (27.3%) and decent but unspectacular whiffs (9.4%).
Lugo had a fabulous year for the Mets and his long term future looks to be in high levrage situations out of the pen. His stellar curve, which posted the best spin rate for any curveball in the league last season, posted a buff 32.9 K% and did not draw a walk in 2019. He added 10 inches of vertical drop on the pitch, which is pretty phenomenal as it is 8.9 inches above the league average. It is safe to say that if it wasn’t for the Diaz situation at Citi Field, Lugo would have been registering saves left, right and centre last season.
While possessing both a fourseamer and a sinker, Lugo’s transition to the bullpen has seen him tend more often to the former (35% usage in 2019) than the latter (22%). His fourseamer’s above average rise and average tail accompany good velocity that has ticked up to 94.8 mph now in the ‘pen, which taken together has led to it becoming his most effective pitch with more strikeouts (55) than the rest of his repertoire combined (49). The sinker shows similar velocity and good tail and is more of a pitch Lugo uses to get weak contact (.252 slugging, .207 wOBA against) but still generates some swing-and-misses (8.8 SwStr%).
The slider in Lugo’s arsenal is the weaker of his breaking balls, possessing about 10% less drop than the league average slider but still decent horizontal break and velocity (88.1 mph). Lugo was perhaps in the zone a bit too often with it in 2019 (52%) as despite a 15.2 SwStr%, the league put up a 1.020 OPS against.
The star of his arsenal, the curve was a stellar pitch for Lugo in 2018. He upped his usage on dramatically in 2018 to 31.9% (17.4% in 2017). He showed superb command of the curve with a 48.4% zone rate, and it was good at getting hitters to expand the zone with a 41.3% chase rate. It also showed some improvement in swing-and-miss in ’18 with a 25.3% whiff rate (20.9% in 2017). In addition to having above-average drop (59 inches; 54 inches is league average), Lugo’s curve is one of the most unique in baseball in terms of spin rate—last year’s mark put it in the 99th percentile.
Similar to his other pitches, Lugo’s four-seamer picked up some velocity this past year at 94.3 mph (91.9 mph in 2017). It was an effective pitch with a 25.4% whiff rate (17.2% in 2017) and stymied hitters for a sparkling .211 wOBA and .173 batting average. All told it, was an outstanding offering with a 9.0 pVal.
Like almost all sinkers, Lugo’s iteration doesn’t feature much in the way off swing-and-miss ability, with just a 6.7% swinging-K rate and 14.3% whiff rate. The batted-ball results with the sinker weren’t too great this past year, as it allowed a fairly substantial .350 wOBA and .292 batting average to opposing hitters. Lugo’s sinker did show a nice bump in average velocity in 2018, as it sat at 93.3 mph, passing its average of 91.1 mph from 2017.
Lugo’s secondary breaking pitch, the slider had a 29% whiff rate (13.2% swinging-K rate) and a relatively low 28.4% chase rate. The batted-ball results were bad, including a loud .419 wOBA (three home runs) and a .372 batting average allowed. Overall it wasn’t a good pitch with a -4.0 pVal.
His least used offering by far, Lugo rarely threw his changeup at just 7.6% (16.9% in 2017). He threw it almost exclusively to lefties (107/122). It had a fairly modest whiff rate at 24.1%. Lugo did command the changeup reasonably well with a 37.4% zone rate. It held hitters to a .211 wOBA and .115 batting average.