Jason Vargas
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

New York Mets starting pitcher Jason Vargas was a disappointment last season but is having a strong spring.

Jason Vargas is an enigma. Is he the solid left-handed starter that the New York Mets thought they were getting when they signed him to a two-year $16 million dollar in February 2018? Or is he the unreliable pitcher that was smacked around repeatedly last season and was pitching to an ERA of 8.75 as late as August?

To be fair, Vargas improved significantly down the stretch. In his final 10 starts, he pitched to an ERA of 3.60 and finished the year with a 5.77 ERA. Funny enough, his best outing came in his last start of the year. He shut out the Braves for seven innings while surrendering just three hits.

While the verdict is still out, Vargas has been having a solid spring so far. In 8.1 innings of work over three games, he has surrendered just one earned-run. Of course, it’s a small sample size, but the early signs are positive.

Mets coaches are optimistic

Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland still has confidence in Vargas. When asked by reporters about the pitcher, Eiland said, “If he had a good first half and a bad second half, I wouldn’t feel as good. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and he finished strong.”

Vargas signed for the Mets last year, to provide rotation insurance. That became even more important when Matt Harvey was designated for assignment in May. This season Vargas is expected to be the fifth starter behind Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz.

The Mets do have a safety net if Vargas reverts to 2018 form. Either Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman could be moved from the bullpen back to a starting role if needed.

Manager Mickey Callaway is happy with what he’s seen from Vargas this spring.

I am really pleased with the way he is throwing the ball, I am sure he is. Going into the season that has got to give him some confidence so he can continue what he did those last [10] starts for us last year.

Opening Day is around the corner. We’ll soon see which version of Jason Vargas shows up in Queens this year.

New York Mets fans will be hoping it’s the one with a 1.08 ERA this spring.

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