The Mets brought left-hander Jason Vargas in this winter to help bring stability to a pitching staff that had been marred by injuries in the recent past.
What he has done, however, has been the opposite, as the 35-year-old owns an 0-3 record with a 13.86 ERA (19 runs in 12.1 innings) over three starts.
Vargas’s pitches have been predictable, flat and ineffective in his first three starts of the year. It’s conceivable to believe that he returned from injury too early and is seeing that in full force on the baseball diamond.
The southpaw fractured his hamate bone in his non-pitching hand in Spring Training after being hit by a comebacker. While it was his non-pitching hand, a few more rehab starts should have been in order.
Regardless, Mets manager Mickey Callaway said after another rough outing last night in Cincinnati against one of the worst teams in baseball that Vargas would receive his next start.
“The command’s not there,” Callaway said. “He’s making too many mistakes. He was hard on himself after the game, saying that’s unacceptable. But he’ll get there. He’s just definitely not there yet.”
While Vargas may be able to work out of his funk by going out their every fifth day, his struggles may be indicative of a larger problem.
With Kansas City last year, Vargas did log 18 wins and appear in the All-Star game, but much of that success came in the first half of the year.
He had a shining 2.62 ERA prior to last year’s All-Star break, but in the second-half, he logged a 6.38 ERA.
So for Vargas, he may very well be more like the pitcher we saw to end last year than to begin it.
Either way, the Mets have him under contract for this year and next, so a solution much be reached. If he continues to struggle in the rotation, what should the Mets do with him?
Here are a couple options:
Disabled List with Two Rehab Starts
Ultimately, it appears Vargas returned far too early in his road back from recovery, and could benefit from some time back on the disabled list, with a couple rehab starts to put under his belt.
Yes, it’s only May and there is a lot of baseball to be played and he could conceivably try to work through his issues in the major league rotation, but May wins are still important and the Mets are trying to compete for a playoff spot.
Give the guy some time to ease back into a starting role, get stronger, work on his pitches and feel comfortable and then try him back out in the rotation.
They have a few options that could slot into the rotation in his place, which brings me to my next solution.
Move Vargas to Bullpen
Like the Mets wanted to do with Matt Harvey before he was ultimately traded, a bullpen stint to work towards becoming an effective starter could be something that could work for Vargas.
Seth Lugo, who has started the last two years for the Mets is currently in the bullpen and could be bumped back to the rotation and swapped with Vargas.
Lugo is having a solid year thus far, logging a 2.66 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched.
Any way you shake it, Vargas has been bad. If the Mets want to give him one more start, that’s fine. But if in that start he struggles mightily again, then he needs to be bounced from the rotation.
At this point, it doesn’t matter how much money he is making, New York needs to do what is best for the team and make a decision on the beleaguered lefty.