The New York Mets and Mickey Callaway already have the starting rotation set in stone with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard at the top.
The New York Mets have an undeniable strength—the starting rotation. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are the obvious one-two punch that can carry a ball club. Moreover, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler put together strong 2018 campaigns that solidified their spots in the 2019 rotation.
The one question mark was whether or not Jason Vargas would plug in as the fifth starter. On Wednesday, manager Mickey Callaway confirmed that Vargas would round out the rotation.
Mickey Callaway confirms: Jason Vargas is the Mets' fifth starter. There will be no competition for rotation spots this spring. (deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Matz, Vargas are the five.)
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 13, 2019
Vargas was an All-Star with the Kansas City Royals in 2017, but he fell off a cliff after signing with the New York Mets in 2018. The 36-year-old posted a 5.77 ERA in 2019 and only pitched 92 innings. He is clearly the weak link on the rotation.
That being said, slotting Vargas in as the fifth starter isn’t much of a risk. The rest of the rotation is strong enough to cover up for an inconsistent fifth starter. Obviously, Vargas won’t be in the rotation long if he pitches to a 5.77 ERA once again. But as long as he can keep the Mets in games and hand the ball to an improved bullpen after five or six innings, he’s not an awful option as a fifth starter.
Furthermore, if Callaway decides he needs to take Vargas out of the rotation, he can always turn to Seth Lugo despite his importance as a setup man. If Callaway chooses to leave Lugo in the bullpen, he can tap the 25-year-old Corey Oswalt who pitched to a 3.07 ERA in his final four starts last season.
The starting rotation should be the least of Callaway’s concerns heading into Spring Training. Vargas is the only question mark in the rotation and now he has the opportunity to focus on preparing for the season rather than trying to win a spot in the rotation.