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New York Mets: Finding a role for pitcher Jason Vargas in 2019

DENVER, CO - JUNE 19: Jason Vargas #40 of the New York Mets pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a game at Coors Field on June 19, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JUNE 19: Jason Vargas #40 of the New York Mets pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a game at Coors Field on June 19, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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The New York Mets don’t have a clear role for Jason Vargas in 2019. Will they keep him in the rotation or find another place to stash him?

By keeping Zack Wheeler at the 2018 trade deadline, the New York Mets made it known that they intend to enter the 2019 campaign with a pretty rock-solid rotation. Anchored by Jacob deGrom at the top, they will supplement him with Noah Syndergaard as the number two followed by Wheeler and Steven Matz.

It’s the fifth spot in the rotation when things get dicey. Specifically, it’s whether or not the Mets use veteran southpaw Jason Vargas as a starter or not.

Vargas is making starting pitcher money next season which tells us they will at least give him a chance to earn the final rotation spot. His abysmal 2018 season yet continued chances hints that this team isn’t ready to give up on him quite yet.

A rotation of these five men ain’t half bad. Fifth starters are rarely effective. To get a .500 record out of them is a success.

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The Mets could write-off Vargas’ year as one plagued by injuries. He has made more than one trip to the disabled list. Several early horrific outings also inflated his ERA to epic proportions. Take those away and make them a little kinder to the eye, Vargas is having a very bad year instead of an atrocious one.

I’m sure most fans would rather see anybody else in the fifth spot. Other than Jose Reyes, anyone besides Vargas who has pitched for the 2018 team qualifies in our minds. They don’t need a world-beater to round things out. They just need someone who can keep them in the game for five innings.

Can Vargas do this? I’m not so sure he can.

Let’s assume they can’t trade him or are unwilling to designate Vargas for assignment. The alternative is to put him in the bullpen.

Vargas isn’t the type of player who comes across as someone who would pitch well in relief. Mop-up duty would suit him best. Then again, the same is true of several pitchers on the current team.

One role the Mets will need in 2019 is a left-handed specialist. Jerry Blevins doesn’t deserve to come back. This is a little wasteful, but maybe it’s the only way to use Vargas effectively. It has worked for former Mets pitcher Oliver Perez. Maybe it’s worth a try for Vargas.

The team has several big roster decisions to make over the offseason and into 2019. Vargas’ role with the team is one of the toughest. He offers them very little. There’s not one skill he blows us away with.

There’s always hope a player like Jay Bruce can hit for power. This year, the Mets even hoped Reyes would give them speed.

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With Vargas, there’s not much to look forward to. The Mets will need to do their best to hide him somewhere and get at least a little back.

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