As the old adage goes, you can never have enough pitching and for a pitching staff that’s prone to injuries like the Mets’, it’s even more true. Recently, the Mets added another starting pitcher to the mix with their signing of Jason Vargas to a two-year, $16 million deal with a team option for a third year. The move was a long time coming as the Mets reportedly had their eyes on the mid-tier pitchers of the market for most of the offseason. Vargas is a almost guarantee to be in the rotation come opening day, unless, for whatever reason, he can’t play. While he may not have the aura of starters such as Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey, Vargas can still be a solid mid-rotation starter for a team like the Mets.
For Vargas, 2017 was a tale of two seasons as he was a completely different pitcher after the All-Star break. In the first half of the season he was a surprising candidate to start the All-Star Game with his 2.62 ERA and a 1.147 WHIP in 17 games started for the Kansas City Royals. The second half is when things quickly went downhill for the 35-year-old lefty. In his last 15 starts of the season Vargas had a 6.38 ERA, a 1.595 WHIP, and a 1.70 strikeout to walk ratio. Of course, this massive drop could be attributed to 2017 being Vargas’ first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, during which highs and lows are to be expected.
For the entire season Vargas’ cumulative numbers aren’t too bad. He finished the season with a 4.16 ERA, 6.7 K/9, and a 1.330 WHIP in 179.2 innings pitched. All of that put together resulted in a respectable 3.8 bWAR for the 12-year veteran, which is a career-high.
The Steamer projection system doesn’t see Vargas replicating his successful 2017 campaign with his almost all of his stats taking a turn in the wrong direction. It projects that Vargas will pitch 157 innings, over the course of 28 starts, to the tune of a 4.44 ERA, 7.26 K/9, and a 1.335 WHIP. Even with Vargas taking a step back, the Mets will gladly take those stats in the middle of their rotation next year. Every start that Vargas can make takes a start away from the team’s, mostly ineffective, backup starters who did little to stop the bleeding in 2017 . Even when talking about the primary rotation, Vargas might be able to take up a Bartolo-type role where his best ability is availability.