Seth Lugo’s “Art of Pitching” Lands Him First All-Star Game Appearance

For Kansas City Royals starter Seth Lugo, the journey from starter to reliever and back has finally landed him in the Midsummer Classic.

TORONTO, ON - MAY 01: Seth Lugo #67 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 01, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

DENVER — At the age of 34, another milestone in Seth Lugo’s baseball journey has arrived.

In his first campaign as a member of the Kansas City Royals rotation, Lugo has proven that the decision to transform back into a starter two seasons ago was indeed the right one, culminating in the announcement on Sunday of his first-ever MLB All-Star Game nomination.

The choice to include Lugo as a member of the American League squad could be one of the easiest ones when it comes to the Midsummer Classic. After allowing two earned runs in 6.0 innings in a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night, Lugo’s ERA rose to 2.21, still the best among all MLB starters. Lugo’s outing on Saturday was also his 15th quality start of the season in 19 outings, leading MLB hurlers in that category as well.

Take a look at Lugo’s page on Baseball Reference and you will see plenty of areas where Lugo is either leading the league this season or setting personal bests this season.

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The numbers tell a simple story … Lugo bet on himself in the offseason before the 2023 campaign, sharing his intention to once again become a starter after spending the majority of the previous five seasons in the New York Mets bullpen. That wager has not only paid off for himself, but the Royals in 2024 as well.

“He’s been one of the elite pitchers in the game,” Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said. “He’s eaten up innings at a record pace. He’s been up there in almost every category. He’s been a huge part of what we do, on the field and in the clubhouse.”

With the Royals sitting at 48-43 heading into Sunday’s finale and very much in the AL postseason race, Lugo and three other Kansas City players (Salvador Perez, Cole Ragans and Bobby Witt Jr.) will make the trek to Arlington for the Midsummer Classic. Three of those (all but Perez, who is making his ninth All-Star appearance) will be a part of the festivities for the first time, including Lugo.

“Coming up, I didn’t think I would be here at this stage in my career,” Lugo said. “It’s not the journey I thought I was going to be on, but I knew when I was younger in my career that I could sustain some stuff. I could play later in my life. I knew that age wasn’t going to be an issue. It’s been a little bit of perseverance and determination, but it’s a good feeling.”

That “good feeling” could extend even further in Arlington as Lugo is one of the prime candidates to start on the mound for the American League. He and Ragans represent the first Kansas City pitchers to be named All-Stars since the 2017 season when Jason Vargas earned the honor.

“There are only two starters every year for the All-Star Game. It would be really special to be that guy,” Lugo said.

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And would be even more validation for Lugo that he made the right decision to push to be a starter when he left Queens.

“For me, it’s not a matter of accolades or awards for myself and what I’m trying to do. I have my own standards and goals and I’m trying to work my way towards those,” Lugo said. “But, from outside looking in, that would be pretty special.”

With a wide variety of pitches at his disposal, Lugo has become not only a crafty veteran pitcher, but one who has multiple weapons in his arsenal. In his start on Saturday, per Baseball Savant, Lugo used eight different pitches to keep Colorado batters off balance.

It’s one thing, however, to have a variety of pitches. It’s another to be able to throw them effectively, Quatraro said.

“He has a great pitch mix, but he executes and he keeps hitters off balance,” Quatraro said. “He has refined the art of pitching.”

Yes, it’s another step along Lugo’s journey, but it’s also one the Royals hopes will continue toward more success for the right-hander and the team as well.

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