TORONTO — Seth Lugo the reliever is among Mickey Callaway’s favorite bullpen options, effective enough and flexible enough that the Mets have twice removed Seth Lugo the starter from the rotation to put him back in the back end.
Sure, the righthanded swingman might be one of the Mets’ five best starting pitchers, particularly with Noah Syndergaard and Jason Vargas on the disabled list, but his availability in shorter, more frequent stints changes their bullpen’s dynamic. Callaway has been consistent in deeming Lugo more valuable in that role.
The Mets’ 6-3 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday served as a prime example why.
Corey Oswalt offered a so-so start, giving up two runs in four innings, and the Mets needed five relievers a night after another late-game implosion. Lugo provided three of those innings, allowing one run on Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s groundout. He gave up three hits, walked none, struck out two and still was stretched out enough to throw 37 pitches (including a perfect 10-pitch, two-strikeout seventh).
“We were able to go to him earlier than most would like, but we felt it was necessary and he did a great job for three innings,” Callaway said. “The combined seven innings we got tonight [from Oswalt and Lugo], we’re better off with Lugo throwing those last three . . . I think, overall, this is an example of why we need him in the pen.”
As a reliever this season, Lugo has a 2.23 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 40 1⁄3 innings. As a starter — a small sample size of five games — he has a 3.52 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 23 innings.
Callaway said part of having Lugo as a reliever is monitoring his workload. His long outing Wednesday means he’ll likely be unavailable the next two games.
Lugo said he didn’t find his curveball until he warmed up for his final frame but added that he felt fresh on three days’ rest.
“I could have kept going,” he said. “But we won the game, so we made the right moves.”
Lugo’s effort got the ball to Jerry Blevins (two outs) and Robert Gsellman (one out) for the eighth and Jeurys Familia for the ninth.
The relief quartet made the lineup’s fireworks good for the Mets’ second win in three games (and third in 14 games). A five-run fifth, highlighted by Todd Frazier’s two-run home run, offered the bullpen room to work.
Frazier, Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores (double) each went 2-for-4. Five Mets scored at least one run and five had at least one RBI.
Flores’ strong night — a ho-hum night during his hot stretch — extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games, matching Cabrera for the Mets’ longest such streak of the season.
Toronto righthander Marcus Stroman, who starred for Patchogue-Medford High School, fared poorly in his first career start against the Mets. He allowed six runs and six hits in 4 2⁄3 innings, walking four and striking out two.
Stroman’s 10th outing this season was the latest in a series of tough ones for him. He spent about a month and a half on the disabled list with a right shoulder issue, then allowed one earned run in 12 innings across his first two starts since. Wednesday represented a step backward, raising his ERA to 6.50.
“Everything is just up a little bit from what I’ve seen in the past,” Callaway said. “From a pitching coach’s perspective, for him to have his good sinker and good slider, he’s got to make sure he gets the ball down.”