“I think he’s gotten stronger,” manager Terry Collins said. “Those young guys have really been exceptional. They’ve really made a difference.”

Collins on win, Lugo's effort

Collins on win, Lugo’s effort

WSH@NYM: Collins discusses win, Lugo’s performance

Mets manager Terry Collins discusses the 5-1 win over the Nationals and the strong performance of young pitcher Seth Lugo

For one brief stretch on Sunday, Lugo did not appear to be in top form, loading the bases in the first inning and giving up two more hits, including a Danny Espinosa home run, in the second. But he did not allow either rally to escalate, moving on to retire 11 in a row from the second through the fifth.

Lugo escapes 1st-inning jam

Lugo escapes 1st-inning jam

WSH@NYM: Rivera gets out at home as Lugo escapes jam

Rene Rivera collects the grounder and steps on the plate as Seth Lugo escapes a bases-loaded jam without surrendering a run in the 1st

“I thought he settled down after the second inning and really pitched well,” Collins said. “He commanded the strike zone, both sides of the plate, off-speed pitches. He really pitched well.”

The blister stopped bothering Lugo after trainers patched it, freeing him to do what he has proved to do best: mix five pitches from the mid-70s to the mid-90s, including one fastball that radar guns clocked at 97 mph.

“I just tell myself, those are just hitters up there,” Lugo said. “I don’t think about the names on the backs of the jerseys.”

Despite that demeanor, most around the Mets have been surprised by Lugo, who had a 6.50 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas before arriving in Flushing. Forced into the rotation because of an injury to Steven Matz, Lugo has posted a 2.19 ERA overall in four starts.

Along the way he has received accolades for his curveball, which reaches spin rates that Statcast™ had never recorded until he arrived in the Majors. But it’s clear now that he is more than just some novelty. He’s a trusted member of the rotation for a team suddenly relying on him to be his best down the stretch.

“I just try to go out there and give the team a chance to win is all,” he said. “If I stay in the strike zone, I think I have a chance.”

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Mets News / Lugo getting stronger with every start