Terry Collins still worries about Seth Lugo’s elbow, which shelved him until June 11 with a partial UCL tear he might have suffered pitching in the World Baseball Classic.
Lugo has responded to the caution by giving the Mets a chance to win every time he starts a game.
The 27-year-old pitched 6 2⁄3 innings, striking out five and allowing one run on four hits and a walk, in Thursday afternoon’s 3-2 walk-off win against the Cardinals at Citi Field. He had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the fifth when Greg Garcia doubled to rightfield.
“My biggest issue is going to be the wear and tear on the elbow,” Collins said. “He said, no, his elbow felt fine, so we let him go [into the seventh].”
“No, it hasn’t been an issue,” said Lugo, who moved to 5-2 on the season. “Not even really a thought process at this point. It’s been feeling good, and I haven’t had any issues with it.”
Lugo looked dominant early, allowing his only baserunner through the first four innings when he plunked Luke Voit leading off the second.
He retired the first two batters of the fifth, with Jose Reyes ranging far to his right on a ground ball to rob Magneuris Sierra of a hit for the second out, before Garcia’s double.
A one-out walk by Matt Carpenter in the sixth was followed by Tommy Pham’s RBI double, which tied the game at 1.
Lugo got two outs in the seventh before allowing singles to Garcia and Eric Fryer, prompting Collins to bring in Erik Goedell, who produced a popout by pinch hitter Jedd Gyorko.
“Changeup’s the only one I didn’t throw very much,” Lugo said. “Slider, curveball, sinker, four-seam, they were all working pretty good. I was throwing a lot of strikes and keeping it on the corners, and they were getting some weak contact.”
The Mets have won 12 of Lugo’s last 14 starts dating to Aug. 25, 2016, a period in which he has established his importance to a rotation decimated by injuries to its biggest stars.
He said he has noticed improvements in his own performance.
“The biggest thing for me is making adjustments each start, try to get better,” he said. “I feel like that’s happened. I feel like my pitches are coming out better each time I come out there. It’s about how you finish and not how you start.”