After spending the last few years bouncing back and forth between big league and minor league…
Lugo Still Working Hard
Right-handed starting pitcher, Ruddy Lugo has been having an up and down year. Lugo started the season with a win against Nashville and won two more games in April, however as the season progressed, Lugo's performance on the mound seemed to regress. He lost four games in June, while only winning one. The All-Star break offered minor relief as he won against Albuquerque, only to lose his next two starts.
Now with a little under a month left of play in Triple-A, Lugo is looking to become more consistent on the mound finishing off his first season in the Mets organization.
To gain consistency on the mound, Lugo is spending more time building his strength and fighting off fatigue.
"Around this time of year you get tired," Lugo said. "I'm working on maintaining my strength, by just working out with the strength coach and trainers. I do a lot more running, weights and agilities."
Lugo spent most of his career in the big leagues as a middle relief pitcher. He switched to a starting role this season for the first time since 2004, and pitching six or more innings a game was a hurdle he had to overcome and adapt to quickly this season.
Zephyrs pitching coach Rick Waits has helped Lugo work on pacing himself on the mound during his long starts.
"He [Rick Waits] has done a lot. He's shown me how to pace myself a little more when I'm on the mound struggling," Lugo said. "He's been a great addition to the team, as far as talking to the pitchers and the whole staff."
As well as working on improving strength, Lugo is working with Waits to develop his changeup to be successful against right-handed hitters. Overall Lugo has more trouble against righties. Right-handers hit .288 against Lugo and drove in 49 of 73 earned runs he gave up while in New Orleans.
Lugo's repertoire includes a fastball, curveball, change-up and slider, but his favorite is the curveball as it is the most useful in getting him out of a tight spot.
"Usually I throw my curveball when I want to get out of a problem. So now I've been working on using my change up on righties," Lugo said.
While he is more comfortable in using his change up against right handed hitters, he still needs to work on developing his change up before it becomes a go-to pitch like his curveball.
"Its [work on the change up] been going so-so, it hasn't been going as good as I wanted it too, but we are still working on it in the bull pen."
Superior strength and an improved changeup were likely the keys to turning around Lugo's season. While he lost six of his last nine decisions in New Orleans, he is still focused on working with Waits to improve his performance now that he is back from the big league club despite making no officially appearances in Shea.
"Just being myself and just having fun is how I'll get out of this slump," Lugo said while flashing his signature smile. "I'm just trying to help my teammates, that's it."
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