ATLANTA -- Seth Lugo didn't miss a beat in his return from a lengthy season-opening stint on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation.He threw 90 pitches and went seven innings without any pain in his elbow as he cruised through the Braves' lineup in the Mets' 2-1 victory on
ATLANTA -- Seth Lugo didn't miss a beat in his return from a lengthy season-opening stint on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation.
He threw 90 pitches and went seven innings without any pain in his elbow as he cruised through the Braves' lineup in the Mets' 2-1 victory on Sunday afternoon, only allowing one run while collecting six strikeouts.
"It was fun, and all I was hoping for to go out there to execute some pitches," Lugo said.
Lugo was able to get ahead in the count against the Braves. He had 18 first-pitch strikes against 29 batters faced, and he used his slider and changeup to keep opposing hitters off-balance. According to Statcast™, Lugo had four called strikes with his slider and three swinging strikes with the changeup.
"The changeup was the best that it has been since I can remember," Lugo said. "It was a good pitch and that was what was working best for me. So, I stuck with that."
In the fifth inning, Lugo relied on his changeup to get out of a bases-loaded jam. He had Braves first baseman Matt Adams at the plate as he tried to protect a 2-1 lead. Lugo started him with two sliders and used his changeup to get ahead in the count.
Adams fouled off the changeup, but Lugo turned to his his two-seam fastball to induce a double play grounder to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to end the inning. The play turned out to be a key moment in the game.
"He did a great job mixing it up and keeping us in the ballgame and giving us a chance to win," Mets catcher Rene Rivera said.
Mets manager Terry Collins was also pleased with the selection of pitches in that key situation. He was encouraged by Lugo's feel for all his secondary pitches and location.
"I thought he located his fastball," Collins said. "He was down with it and he moved it up when he had to. He threw sliders for strikes and used his changeup when he was behind in the count for strikes. He also used his curveball and kept them off balance. That is what he does."
Lugo's performance continued a string of recent success for the Mets' rotation. Since June 7, the rotation has a 0.83 ERA in over 32 2/3 innings pitched. The Mets' staff held the Braves to six runs in the four-game series.
"It's a tremendous lift for the club to have those two guys [Steven Matz and Lugo] come back and really give us a shot in the arm with the pitching," Collins said. "They really saved the bullpen and gave us big innings. They really did a great job."
The Mets optioned right-hander Tyler Pill to Triple-A Las Vegas before Sunday's game to clear room on the 25-man roster for Lugo, and designated right-hander Sean Gilmartin for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster. Gilmartin was selected off waivers by St. Louis. They also optioned utility man T.J. Rivera to Las Vegas to officially account for Yoenis Cespedes, who was activated and played on Saturday but was counted as the 26th man teams are allowed to add for doubleheaders.
The Mets return home to play the Cubs starting Monday night to open a stretch of 14 games in 14 days against teams that made the playoffs last season. Collins said the Mets will experiment with a six-man rotation and was glad to see the pitching staff start to come together. He hopes it can continue moving forward.
"The next 11 days are pretty big as we play some pretty good teams," Collins said. "Teams that are playing well and it's the big leagues. If we are going to get back in it, we have to beat them."
Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.