New York Mets

New York Mets: Addition of Joey Lucchesi is a solid move

Joey Lucchesi is a solid depth pickup for the New York Mets.

Credit to the New York Mets for keeping things interesting in what has otherwise been an uneventful MLB offseason.

While much of the league sits idly by, Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and the New York Mets have solidified the backend of their bullpen by bringing in former Minnesota Twins reliever Trevor May, and added catcher James McCann, who not only provides an offensive boost to the lineup, but should also be a big asset to a much-improved starting rotation.

The blockbuster trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco may not be the only blockbuster of the winter for New York, with the Mets reportedly being a finalist for outfield free agent George Springer.

A major change of culture is underway in New York, a welcomed shift for New York Mets faithful.

Continuing their trend of beefing up the roster, the Mets have now acquired starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi from the San Diego Padres as part of a three-team deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates that sent starter Joe Musgrove to San Diego and a handful of prospects to the Pirates to help kickstart the rebuild in Pittsburgh.

The addition of Joey Lucchesi isn’t a move that will help shift the needle in a major way, but it is an under-the-radar type acquisition for New York that has a good chance of paying off.

Bringing four years of team control with him, Lucchesi quickly became an intriguing rotation piece for San Diego as a rookie back in 2018. It wasn’t an over-powering fastball from the left side that drew fans in, but his funky delivery loaded with moving parts and his famous “churve” pitch, a changeup/curveball combo used to finish off hitters.

Lucchesi would go 8-9 with a 4.08 ERA (3.45 xFIP) and a 26.5 percent strikeout rate in 26 rookie starts, thanks in large part to his swing and miss churve that kept hitters fooled much of the year.

His 2019 season saw similar production, striking more than 8.5/9 IP and recording a 4.18 ERA (4.17 FIP) across 30 starts. He was worth 2.1 Wins Above Replacement during his sophomore season, a fine number for a backend starter, but not for someone leading a starting rotation.

A completely revamped rotation in San Diego pushed Lucchesi to the team’s alternate site in 2020. He saw just five innings of work last season, giving up five earned runs on 13 hits in limited action.

Yes, 2020 was a year to forget for Lucchesi, but he’s been worth 3.3 fWAR in his young career and has struck out nearly a quarter of hitters he’s faced at the big league level.

Now with the New York Mets, Lucchesi not only gets a change of scenery, but he won’t be tasked with having to lead a rotation with a young behind him.

Early reports indicate that Lucchesi will be given the opportunity to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation where he could be a valuable asset for New York.

Working out of the bullpen as a swing-man is also a viable option with upside for the 27-year-old with his deceptive delivery sure to cause issues for hitters in short stints after facing a Jacob deGrom or Carlos Carrasco for most of the night.

Opponents own a career .293 on-base percentage and a .690 OPS the first time facing Lucchesi, so while he’s been a league-average pitcher overall, he has been effective early in outings.

Best of all, the Mets acquire Lucchesi for an extremely small price tag. The only piece New York gave up in this three-team deal is 20-year-old prospect Endy Rodriguez, a switch-hitting catcher/first baseman/outfielder who hasn’t played above rookie ball.

It’s far from the biggest move of the offseason, but the addition of Joey Lucchesi is a solid, under-the-radar move for the New York Met.

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