NEW YORK -- Seth Lugo, who led all Mets pitchers this spring with 26 1/3 combined innings between Grapefruit League and World Baseball Classic play, appears headed to a season-opening stint on the disabled list, according to a source. That opens the Mets' final bullpen spot for right-hander Rafael Montero.
Lugo underwent an MRI this weekend after complaining of a tired arm. Though that test did not reveal any structural damage, according to a source, the team plans to place him on the 10-day DL prior to Sunday morning's roster deadline.
A fifth starter candidate at the dawn of camp, Lugo lost a battle with Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman, both of whom made the rotation. He finished spring with a 4.78 combined ERA in Grapefruit League games and the Classic, giving up four runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings in his final start Monday against the Nationals.
"That might have been where I got my arm a little tired, was just trying to do a bit too much that last outing in spring, trying to have the same intensity I had in the World Baseball Classic," Lugo said. "I think I just didn't know that I needed to back off a little bit, focus on getting ready for the season."
Lugo's absence opens the door for Montero, once a long-shot candidate to make the team, to join the bullpen. In nine spring relief appearances and one start, Montero posted a 1.77 ERA, striking out 23 batters in 20 1/3 innings. General manager Sandy Alderson called Montero's spring performance "a renaissance" for a player the Mets once considered a better pitching prospect than Jacob deGrom.
Montero will fill out a bullpen that also includes Addison Reed, Noel Salas, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles, Josh Smoker and Josh Edgin. Lugo will join David Wright, Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo and Steven Matz on the 10-day disabled list.