Lucas Luetge’s major league debut this season came when he faced Oakland’s Josh Reddick – and struck him out with three pitches.
Some young pitchers would have trouble living up to that kind of start, but the Seattle Mariners Rule 5 left-hander isn’t one of them.
In 18 appearances this season, he has yet to allow an earned run, and the opposition is hitting .179 against him. Is Luetge aware of is scoreless streak?
“Sure. People call me or ask me, text me, and I talk about it,” Luetge said. “I’m proud of it, but it’s only 11 innings. I mean, c’mon.”
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Actually, it’s 11 1/3 innings, and Luetge has often faced only one batter in an appearance. In his last three outings, he’s been asked to get one out and retired the only man he faced.
“Every hitter is different, and when I’m warming up (bullpen coach) Jaime Navarro will tell me who’s coming up, who I might be facing,” Luetge said. “He might say ‘This guy won’t swing at a first pitch’ or tell me what the guy’s weakness is.
“When I go to the mound, I have a plan. I know what I do best, what feels good that day in the ‘pen.”
A 25-year-old rookie who never pitched above Class AA until this year, Luetge knows himself.
“My best pitch is my slider, and if it’s not there, I’ll throw a fastball,” he said. “You play catch with your fastball every day. The arm slot always feels natural. So you might throw a fastball, get the feel for the arm slot and go right back and find the slider.”
And when he doesn’t have his best stuff?
“You have to trick yourself, tell yourself you’ll find it – and then hope the guy lines out to left field,” Luetge said.