Up 3-0, Jason Vargas came up to bat in the top of the first inning before he could even take the hill.
He promptly allowed three runs in the bottom half.
Ahead in the bottom of the third by a score of 5-3, Vargas allowed two more runs. His afternoon ended at the inning’s conclusion as the Mets perished in a 17-6 bloodbath.
Although he only tossed 67 pitches over his three innings of work, Vargas had plenty of chances to hit his stride. Granted, he did whiff five batters, occasionally showing some nice signs of control with some strikeouts on Jesus Aguilar and Hernan Perez.
It’s even more convenient to write off the start as a bad day given Vargas’ gutsy performance against Miami earlier in the week.
Nonetheless, Vargas still allowed a solo homer and two-run double (respectively) to those same hitters. Add in two doubles by Travis Shaw and two walks in his three innings, and it becomes clear that Vargas, once again,just didn’t have it.
Regarding the latest in a string of frustrating starts, manager Mickey Callaway commented, “he was trying to make pitches he just couldn’t… he ended up making some decent ones, but just couldn’t get consistent with it… he just needs to go out there and get some confidence.”
Vargas entered the contest with a 9.87 ERA, and after yet another implosion, the lefty is now staring at a 10.62 measure.
His 21.60 and 16.20 ERAs in the first and fifth innings (respectively) make it even harder to define a solution in terms of his role going forward.
Seth Lugo is certainly a viable replacement in the rotation, but expecting a sound transition to the bullpen for Vargas, who has chronically grooved his 85-87 mph fastball over the plate through the year, will inevitably create a new conflict in the bullpen.
In any case, Callaway went on to explain that Vargas will likely get another start, seeing as the Mets are still looking for someone who is merely capable of starting the nightcap of Monday’s doubleheader.
Among the role the bullpen played in today’s loss, Jacob Rhame‘s two earned runs in the fourth inning and Chris Flexen‘s seven runs (only three earned) on eight hits between the sixth and seventh and were both relatively unencouraging. A scoreless inning and a third from Jerry Blevins was – despite the crushingly lopsided score he walked in on – a pleasant surprise.
Although Rhame was charged with the loss, it was AJ Ramos who ultimately opened the floodgates in the fifth inning. After retiring his first two batters, Ramos slipped, allowing a home run to Erik Kratz, yielding a single to reliever Dan Jennings, walking Lorenzo Cain on five pitches, and surrendering a bases-clearing double to Christian Yelich before being sent to the showers.
Although Ramos was evidently called in with a chance to regain his confidence following a brutal performance the night before, his struggles added three crippling runs to a 7-6 deficit.
Ramos has now allowed five earned runs on four hits and four walks in his last three appearances, ballooning his already-disheartening 4.86 ERA to a ghastly 6.41.
While he entered the 2018 season as a staunch competitor for save opportunities with Jeurys Familia, Ramos is now in danger to lose setup appearances to the likes of Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and Paul Sewald.
It’s hard to envision a scenario where Ramos is demoted or designated for assignment, but for a reliever who accumulated 72 saves across his last two seasons, the fall from grace is certainly alarming.