The Mets have added Jason Vargas on a two-year deal with a possible third option year. The Mets needed to make this move with injury issues up and down their starting staff.
The 35-year-old lefty was a fantasy bargain last season when he stumbled to 18 wins despite only a 4.16 ERA and 6.7 K/9. He’s a flyball pitcher, which can lead to an above average number of home runs (1.1 HR/9 on career) but a low BABIP (.284). The lower-than-normal BABIP, which was helped the past few seasons by the Royals’ plus outfield defense, has allowed him to post an ERA under both his FIP and xFIP for six straight seasons. With an 86 mph fastball, he needs this trait to stay in the league.
Vargas is effectively a two-pitch pitcher. Besides his flyball-inducing fastball, he has an elite changeup (20% SwStr%) to keep himself relevant. He mixes in a bad curveball to possibly keep hitters off balance.
As for a 2018 projection, I think Vargas will perform similarly to 2017. His performance could come down depending on who the Mets have in the outfield on days that he pitches. When it’s Vargas time to start, Jay Bruce might need to “take a break.”
It’s tough to say whose rotation spot Vargas will take, with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman, and Steven Matz all spending time on the DL last season. I think Vargas slots in as the No. 3 starter behind deGrom and Syndergaard. If anyone misses out, it may be Seth Lugo, who was needed as a fill-in last season with all of the other injuries.
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