Joey Lucchesi is Progressing Splendidly

Early bumps in the road appear to be in the rearview for the funky southpaw

Incremental progress is an undervalued aspect of growth. Get a little better every day. Seems simple enough, right? Not always.

In the eyes of some, baby steps just don’t suffice. Until they do, of course.

Joey Lucchesi wasn’t one of the Mets’ higher-profile signings this winter. He was an available depth piece on the trade market that the club clearly saw potential in.

Giving up young catching prospect Endy Rodriguez to acquire the 27-year-old left-hander from San Diego in a three-way deal with Pittsburgh seemed an innocuous enough move, especially with Francisco Alvarez developing at a pleasantly rapid pace.

Now the ball was in the Mets’ court as far as getting the most out of Lucchesi. As we’ve talked about here in the past, there are caveats to that formula.

Historically, Lucchesi’s been ineffective after facing a lineup more than twice (.684 OPS first time through, .717 OPS second, .943 OPS third); certainly a hurdle.

And, with just two main pitches and noticeably different release points on both, it’s always been a matter of time before professional hitters see past the funkiness of his delivery and pick up what’s coming.

We’ve noted how Lucchesi’s mirrored and/or replicated spin directions on his sinker, churve, and seldom-used cutter work off each other well, degrading hitter reaction times ever so slightly and inducing swings at a churve in the dirt, for example.

Unable to put together a truly quality outing over the first month of the season (10.13 ERA after four appearances; 10.2 IP), questions regarding Lucchesi’s effectiveness and value were openly being tossed around.

What have you done for me lately? is practically a credo around here and Joey Fuego was caught in that crossfire early on. The only thing to do at that point is to get better. Over the last four weeks, Lucchesi’s done just that.

An encouraging one-run, two-hit performance over 3.1 innings versus Arizona at Citi Field on May 8 changed the narrative, albeit briefly, but certainly cast the southpaw in a different light as far as where this could all lead.

Four earned runs allowed without making it out of the second inning a week later versus Tampa Bay negated that progress, but the process had begun in earnest.

Since that loss in Tampa, Lucchesi’s turned a corner. And he’s done so like a gosh-darn Formula One car.

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Including Friday night’s 4.2 innings of one-run ball, over his last three appearances, Lucchesi’s pitched to a 1.46 ERA with 13 strikeouts, three walks, and a .171/.227/.268 line against. That’s gonna play, friends.

Even if he’s only giving you five innings, the long-men littered throughout the Mets’ bullpen can make that work. Piggybacking two hurlers into seven innings of two-run ball is a quality start in my book.

Sean Reid-Foley seemed like the ideal candidate to slide into that role, but with the return of Seth Lugo and the propensity of guys like Jacob Barnes and Robert Gsellman, and Miguel Castro to eat up multiple innings at a time, let the stacking begin.

Without expected contributors Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco in the rotation, the Mets’ starting five (or six, or seven) has adapted, adjusted, and thrived.

With Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Taijuan Walker leading the way, the back-end has kept up with the big dogs and the results have been fantastic.

The Mets’ rotation’s 2.98 ERA as a group ranks second in baseball to the Dodgers’ expensive 2.96 ERA. Gotta love that.

David Peterson, like Lucchesi, has some work to do with regard to finding consistency, but the blueprint that Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, Ricky Meinhold, and the rest of the organization’s stat-crunchers have in place to maximize potential appears to hold water.

Let’s root for that trend to continue.

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