The first off day of the season brings us perhaps some possibly devastating news from the Training Room. Seth Lugo has been diagnosed with a partial tear of the UCL in his pitching elbow. With Steven Matz also on the DL, and Matt Harveylooking to prove that he is healthy from last year’s surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Lugo was being counted on to be the fifth starter to start the season.
Most fans will probably point to the World Baseball Classic as the cause of Lugo’s injury. While I would not put the blame totally on the WBC, since the injury could have also very well occurred during Spring Training, it certainly can be listed as a major contributor.
While Spring Training is used to gradually ramp up a pitcher’s stamina with regards to innings pitched, the WBC is playoff-caliber play in March. Lugo tossed 15 innings in the WBC, and when combined with his 11.1 innings with the Mets, he was most likely overworked for a 27-year old player coming into his first full season. With Puerto Rico advancing to the title game, Lugo started the Championship Game against the United States before returning to Port St. Lucie.
The official word is that Lugo will not require surgery at this time, and has been told not to throw for two weeks. However, this is an injury to the UCL, which normally requires Tommy John Surgery if it is a tear. Coming back to throw too early puts Lugo at risk of tearing it.
This is a huge blow to the Mets this early in the season. The strong point coming in was their starting rotation. As mentioned, Harvey is returning from injury, and Matz is currently on the DL and not scheduled to throw for an undetermined time. With Noah Syndergaard suffering a blister on his pitching hand that pushes his next start back until Sunday, any injuries from here on how become more of an issue that they were at the start of Spring Training.
The good news at this point is that Robert Gsellman and Rafael Montero, who proved valuable as starters down the stretch last season, can cover some short-term injuries.