Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz—Jason Vargas could be a huge key to future New York Mets success.
Yes, the 36-year-old lefty with a career 4.27 ERA. The reason for Vargas’ importance can be defined in one word: stability.
Due to injuries and ineffectiveness, the Mets had to use 12 different starting pitchers in 2018. Vargas was part of this crew, but limped to a 5.77 ERA in 20 starts. Owed $8M this year, the team had little choice but to give him every opportunity to win a spot in the rotation this spring.
Vargas lived up to his end of the bargain, posting an ERA of 4.50 in 18 spring training innings. The team gave him the No. 5 spot in the rotation and he earned the win in his season debut Tuesday vs. the Miami Marlins. He went five innings, allowed two runs on eight hits, and struck out two hitters. While this is far from a dominant performance, the Mets will gladly take this performance every fifth day.
As I briefly touched on above, Vargas joined the team prior to the 2018 season but was limited to just 20 starts last year. He opened the season on the disabled list due to a broken hand and was forced to return to the DL in June because of a calf injury.
Health has been the one factor slowing Vargas down over the last few years. When healthy in 2017, he won 18 games and was an All-Star with the Kansas City Royals. He was limited to just 12 games over the 2015-16 seasons, but won 11 games and had a 3.71 ERA in 2014.
I am not expecting Vargas to turn back the clock and win 18 games again. However, he is a well-traveled veteran with valuable postseason experience. If he can stay healthy and make 29-31 starts, it is likely that we will see his numbers improve across the board.
Per my sources, the Mets have been “steadily checking in” with free agent LHP Dallas Keuchel. Barring a move of this magnitude, Vargas will be in the rotation for the foreseeable future. He is next scheduled to pitch Tuesday, April 9 vs. the Minnesota Twins at Citi Field.