Lujan Shows No Fear
Not many players sign up to be a closer. Most of the time guy's fall into the role and very few are able to embrace it.
Buffalo Bisons relief pitcher John Lujan is not one of those players. After starting off the season in Binghamton, Lujan was called up to Buffalo on April 22 and has been lights out ever since. He has embraced the pressure situations and emerged as the top candidate to hold down the closer role for the Herd.
The 25-year-old right-hander who sits 94-96 MPH with his fastball, and at times hits a tick higher, came over from the Chicago White Sox organization during the off-season and was relieved to get out of the cluster of pitchers in their system.
"I was in a log jam in Chicago," said Lujan who also throws an 83-85 MPH slider. "There are great pitchers in this organization as well but luckily I have been able to fit in, open some eyes and get a shot."
Lujan has really taken advantage of the opportunity given to him within the Mets organization. In six appearances with the B-Mets, he recorded two saves and struck out 11 batters in only 9 1/3 innings pitched.
The former 15th round pick in 2004 of the Texas Rangers has been even better with the Bisons. He has two saves in his only two appearances and has yet to allow a run.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Lujan said. "Every time I go out there I feel a lot of adrenaline going because of the situations I've been in."
Lujan has no fear out on the hill and that mindset has helped him this season. He likes to get the ball when the game hangs in the balance and has the ability to maintain his focus in multiple innings as he did in his last outing.
In a game against the Durham Bulls on April 27, Lujan came into the game in the eighth inning with a 6-5 lead and shut down their potent lineup. He threw 37 pitches in the two innings and really showed why he can be a dominant closer. Lujan can think of nothing better than getting the ball in the final innings.
"[Being the closer] is where I want to be," Lujan said. "It's one of my strengths and I've always loved to pitch with the game on the line and the adrenaline in my favor…You want to be the guy that gets put in [to close a game]."
As good as Lujan has been, he continues to work on his game with Bisons pitching coach Ricky Bones. They are working on his consistency on a daily basis but Bones thinks that Lujan has been doing well.
"He's been throwing the ball well," Bones said. "He has a powerful arm and he seems to know what he's doing…He's not afraid to throw the ball over the plate and to throw strikes. He is definitely on the right track."
This is Lujan's first stint in Triple-A but has looked like a veteran out on the bump. Spring training really built his confidence as he got a chance to throw in front of the Bisons coaching staff and really left an impression.
Lujan built a solid relationship with Bones during spring training and he hopes this isn't his last stop in the organization this season.
"I'm ready [to play in the major leagues],"Lujan said. "I've been waiting all my life for the opportunity."
The Mets may be able to use Lujan in the pen down the road and if the call comes, he'll want the ball when it matters most.
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