New York Mets: A final pitch to sign free agent Gio Gonzalez
By Mike Marrano
With many pitchers still available in free agency, the New York Mets should still look at some options that could contribute to them. One they may be able to snag is Gio Gonzalez.
As we inch toward the start of the season, New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway has announced that there will be no competition with the pitching rotation and Jason Vargas will be the team’s fifth starter.
The Mets seem to still have faith in the former All-Star who had a forgettable first half in 2018. Overall, he posted a 7-9 record with a 5.77 record. Although in the second half of the season, Vargas posted a 3.81 ERA and a 5-3 record, it is risky for the Mets to have full faith in him to be an effective fifth starter for this rotation as he can’t seem to stay consistent. With the unreliability, Vargas has the Mets should still not count out the option to sign two-time All-Star Gio Gonzalez.
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Last season, Gonzalez pitched a 4.21 ERA with a record of 10 wins and 11 losses. When traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, Gonzalez posted a 3-0 record over five starts and had a 2.13 ERA, showing a massive improvement. He can be a good pitcher to eat up innings, like how the Mets wanted Jason Vargas to do but failed to do so.
Over the course of his career, Gonzalez has an average of 199 innings, and since 2015, he has reached 170 innings and over. In 2017, Gonzalez placed sixth in the National League with innings pitched with 201. Vargas has had some issues maintaining his innings pitched as he only hit 170 innings once since 2015.
The other three seasons, Vargas could not reach 100 innings. With Vargas coming off his first year in New York (excluding the shorter one from earlier in his career) and only pitching 92 innings, Gonzalez would provide a safer bet and can pitch more innings to give other starters and bullpen pitchers a rest and not overwork them.
As Mets fans would know, Gonzalez would also benefit from pitching at Citi Field as well. Gonzalez has been dominant at Citi Field with an 11-2 record at Flushing with an ERA of 1.75 through 17 career starts. Overall, Gonzalez is 15-6 against the Mets with a 2.90 ERA, so it would be nice for the Mets to have someone like that on your team and not have to face him multiple times throughout the course of a season.
Even though the starting five is set, it is always nice to have some depth to go into the season. You never know what injuries may occur that may leave one of the starters to miss some time.
Spring Training is still a vital part of the season as many scenarios can unfold. We saw last year at Spring Training what Steven Matz had to go through and the uncertainty he brought going into the regular season. If Vargas, who during Spring Training of 2018 posted an ERA of 4.15, has a disastrous string of games before the season, the Mets need someone to rely on to give them consistency.
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A backup plan could never hurt. With Gonzalez still out there, he could be a good, cheap option to have him fill in the starting rotation whenever he is needed.