New York Mets starter Jason Vargas has been awful this season, and a big reason has been his struggles in the first inning of games.
The New York Mets decision to bring Jason Vargas in to provide insurance for the rotation has been atrocious thus far. After starting the year hurt with a broken hand, he has been bad since returning.
He’s collected a 7.75 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP in seven starts this season. His struggles have been linked somewhat to his disastrous first innings. According to Matt Ehalt of NJ.com, Vargas has an 18.00 ERA in the first inning.
Vargas in the first inning: 18.00 ERA (14 runs/7 innings)
Vargas in every other inning: 4.63 ERA (12 runs/23.1 innings)
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) June 6, 2018
In other innings, he has a 4.63 ERA. While not bad, it’s certainly passable for a fifth starter, which the Mets would take from him. Manager Mickey Callaway at one point basically said that Vargas was staying in the rotation because the team had no other options.
Vargas was signed late in the offseason after having a great first half of the season last year. At the All-Star break, he had a sparkling 2.62 ERA. However, he got beat around in the second half to the tune of a 6.38 ERA, leaving him at 4.16 for the year.
The team (wrongly) counted on him being closer to his first-half splits this season than his second-half splits. Vargas had a league leading 18 wins last year, but has only two in seven starts this season.
This is actually Vargas’ second stint with the Mets, as he was with the team briefly in 2007. He actually managed to be worse in that time, pitching to a 12.19 ERA in two appearances. The team then decided he wasn’t worth keeping around, a decision that they are surely wishing they had stood by this past offseason.
If Vargas doesn’t figure out his first inning issues soon, he may find himself out of the rotation when Noah Syndergaard returns to the rotation.