Jason Vargas will be entering his second season wearing orange-and-blue since signing a two-year, $16 million deal during Spring Training last year.
However, his tenure with the Mets got off to a very rough start as he needed surgery on his right hand at the very end of Spring Training in 2018.
His return to the MLB club did not make people any more happy with the situation as he went 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, and .344 average against him in nine first-half starts.
Vargas, 36, did rebound in the second half, registering a solid 3.81 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 11 starts down the stretch.
The left-hander is hoping the entirety of this season goes well for him this time around, though, and thinks that a regular Spring Training routine this year should help with that, as detailed by Tim Healey of Newsday.
“It’s a better start immediately because you knew where you’re going for camp, you know the group of guys you’re going in with. Getting things off to a goofy start, and then trying to figure out if it’s just something that was a fluke or if it’s something that you’re doing — there’s a lot of things that end up going on. Fortunate enough, we were able to get it on track and get things really rolling at the end.”
Vargas also goes on to say that the team currently has intimated that he is the fifth starter, as in not competing with anyone for the job such as Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen, Kyle Dowdy, or Walker Lockett.
“They’ve never given me any reason to think otherwise. That’s how I go about my work. I feel that Dave, Mickey and my past relationship with Brodie, they know what I bring to the table. I feel like they’ve expressed that to me, I appreciate that. I feel good about where they’ve said they sit with me.”
Mickey Callaway also confirmed this earlier in Spring Training when he said Vargas was the fifth starter, but obviously, things could change very quickly if the team is able to strike a deal with Gio Gonzalez or Clay Buchholz.
Furthermore, Vargas realizes that he is quite different from most pitchers in this era as he does not exactly throw hard, averaging on 87 MPH on his fastball in 2018. He believes that could actually benefit him.
“I guarantee you most of these scouting reports are the same. I’m going to be completely different kind of pitcher. It’s not going to be the same preparation as it’s going to be for your standard guys that come in throwing really hard. I feel like I can use that to my advantage, where I’m separating myself in the other direction.”
While many have wanted the team to replace Vargas this offseason, the ideal scenario is that Vargas simply lives up to the expectations the team had of him when they signed him last offseason: to be a solid innings eater at the back end of the rotation. If he can replicate his second-half numbers for the entirety of 2019, the Mets rotation might not have a true weak link.