Why fans shouldn't worry about KC Royals starter Seth Lugo

Two rough outings shouldn't alarm Kansas City fans.
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The excitement, if not the surprise, was palpable in December when the KC Royals signed free agent pitcher Seth Lugo to a three-year deal that should, if all goes according to plan, help boost the fortunes of the team that in 2023 fell just one loss short of breaking the franchise record for most losses in a season.

Lugo, after all, brings eight years of decent big league experience to a Kansas City pitching staff lacking far too long in just that commodity. He can start or relieve, but will begin the season in manager Matt Quatraro's revamped rotation.

Will he stay there, though? That might be a developing, but certainly not yet ripe, question after Tuesday night's game against San Francisco, which for Lugo turned out to be the second bad outing of his four-appearance spring.

Lugo started for the Royals and pitched four innings, his longest Cactus League stint yet, but along the way surrendered five runs, four of them earned, and gave the Giants six hits. To his credit, he struck out five and didn't issue any walks.

Other than its length, the performance wasn't much different from Lugo's second start, a 2.1 inning affair March 2 when the Guardians tagged him for five runs and five hits — including three homers — and drew a pair of walks.

Fortunately, his other two games were better. He shut out the Cubs for two innings Feb. 26, and the Rangers for three frames March 8. After Tuesday, though, his ERA is an unsightly 7.15.

It's too soon, of course, to worry much, if at all, about Lugo who, after spending most of the previous seven seasons in the Mets' bullpen, returned to starting last year and went 8-7 with a 3.57 ERA and 2.8 fWAR for San Diego. And his career 40-31, 3.50 marks suggest getting knocked around twice in spring training shouldn't trigger any alarm bells in Kansas City.

What, then, should fans expect from Lugo in his first Kansas City campaign?

How FanGraphs projects Seth Lugo will pitch this year

FanGraphs (Depth Charts) predicts Lugo's 2024 will be a bit worse than his 2023. It has the righthander going 8-9 with a 4.40 ERA and 1.8 fWAR in 28 starts.

How will Seth Lugo actually perform for the KC Royals?

Lugo will be better than FanGraphs projects. He won't contend for the American League Cy Young award, but he'll win at least 10 games, won't lose any more than that, and his ERA isn't going to exceed 4.00.

He'll also prove to be the solid, reliable starter the Royals want him to be. Lugo will get at least the 28 starts FanGraphs predicts for him, and probably two or three more. And he'll be worth the $15 million he's scheduled to earn for his first campaign with his new club.

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