Seth Lugo
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Report: Astros interested in Seth Lugo

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According to Marc Carig of The Athletic, the Mets and Astros have been swapping ideas for a potential trade this offseason. Although the two sides haven’t come together on any particular arrangement, Carig hears that Houston may have some interest in a deal involving right-handed reliever Seth Lugo.

The 29-year-old righty proved both versatile and effective after making a near full-time switch to the bullpen in 2018. As the Mets struggled to cobble together a healthy starting rotation, Lugo shone in his new role, pitching to a 2.30 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, and 8.7 SO/9 through 49 relief appearances and 78 1/3 innings (his five spot starts, on the other hand, generated far more lackluster results). His breakthrough on the mound has largely been attributed to his signature curveball, which broke records with its absurdly high spin rate and could make him an intriguing addition to Houston’s spin rate-dependent pitching staff in 2019.

Right now, however, it’s not exactly clear how the Astros envision utilizing the right-handed swingman — provided they get that opportunity at all. Earlier this month, Mets skipper Mickey Callaway appeared committed to the idea of keeping Lugo in the bullpen for another year, and there’s no doubt he’d continue to make an impact for the team alongside recent additions like Jeurys Familia and Edwin Díaz. While there’s no need to throw cold water on this idea just yet, Carig points out that the Mets’ and Astros’ talks have been “wider-ranging” of late and it’s possible that they may not settle on anything definite for some time.

Phillies-Mets could get contentious tonight

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As the Mets were wrapping up a 9-0 shellacking of the Phillies on Tuesday night, reliever Jacob Rhame threw a pitch up and in to first baseman Rhys Hoskins with two outs in the ninth inning. The pitch sailed behind Hoskins’ back. The slugger wasn’t happy about the scare, understandably. Players began to trickle out of their respective dugouts, but a fracas was avoided.

Hoskins was skeptical that Rhame simply missed his spot. Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan, Hoskins said, “He didn’t miss up and in the rest of the inning, so I’ll let you decide. I would assume teams are pitching me in because that’s where they think they can get me out, and that’s fine. That’s part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad.”

Teammate Bryce Harper said, “I don’t get it. I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it’s baseball and you’re going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the [butt]. Not in the head. You throw 98, it’s scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That’s bigger than the game.”

Indeed, two Mets were hit by pitches on Monday night. José Álvarez hit Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning, which advanced a base runner. In the very next at-bat, Juan Nicasio hit Pete Alonso with a first-pitch fastball. It was obvious neither was intentional as the Phillies were only down two runs and hitting both batters advanced base runners and led to runs scoring. It is less obvious that Rhame’s pitch to Hoskins was unintentional, but he showed empathy in his post-game comments. Rhame said, “When you accidentally sail one, it’s probably pretty scary. I’d get [angry], too.”

Will Wednesday night’s series finale be contentious? Despite being “fairly upset,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, “We do not retaliate, and we do not throw at anybody intentionally,” Jake Seiner of the Associated Press reports.

Mets manager Mickey Calloway didn’t give as straight an answer. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Calloway said, “I think at this point, you just go out there and beat people, and win. … For now, I don’t feel like anything has been intentional at us that has warranted anything from our side.” If that changes, however, Calloway said, “They’re going to have each other’s backs.”

Hopefully, neither side decides to take justice into their own hands. But, welcome to the NL East in 2019. The Mets lead the Phillies by one game, and the Braves and Nationals by 1.5 games. It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out division fight all year long.