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Mets Rotation: Better pitching options than Jason Vargas

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DENVER, CO - JUNE 19: Jason Vargas #40 of the New York Mets sits on an empty bench in the visitors dugout after being pulled after 2 1/3 inning and allowing 7 earned runs (including 3 consecutive homers) during a game against the Colorado Rockies 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 sits on an empty bench in the visitors dugout after being pulled after 2 1/3 inning and allowing 7 earned runs (including 3 consecutive homers) during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 19, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 20: Jason Vargas #40 of the New York Mets pitches in the third inning during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

New York Mets fifth starter Jason Vargas is coming off of a horrendous 2018 campaign. Upgrading with internal or external options would greatly benefit the Mets.

The New York Mets‘ 2018 campaign was disappointing given the expectations going into the season. However, the one major bright spot of the team was the starting pitching.

Zack Wheeler, who started the season in AAA Las Vegas and has had trouble staying healthy for an entire season, put up a dominant performance down the stretch. In the second half of the season, he had a 1.68 ERA and went 9-1.

Noah Syndergaard spent some time on the Injured List but had himself a nice 2018 season. He had a 3.03 ERA, went 13-4 and threw two complete games. In his first, which was also the first of his career, he allowed one run, two hits and struck out 11 against the San Francisco Giants. In his second, he shut out the Miami Marlins to bring the Mets’ season to a close.

Steven Matz, who has also had trouble staying healthy in the past, put together a full season for the first time in his career. Over the 30 games he started in 2018, he had a 3.97 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP.

Of course, the most dominant pitching performance for the 2018 Mets came from Jacob deGrom. He led the league in ERA at 1.70, had 269 strikeouts, a 0.912 WHIP, and allowed only 10 home runs in 217 innings pitched. His performance last season earned him the National League Cy Young award.

The one outlier in the starting rotation was Jason Vargas. The Mets signed him in February of 2018 after the start of Spring Training, and he struggled to begin the season. He had an 8.60 ERA in the first half and finished the season at 5.77. He had a 1.413 WHIP and allowed 18 home runs in 92 innings.

Vargas has an average fastball velocity of 86.4 mph, which is another outlier in a rotation with an average of 94.5 mph. Velocity on the fastball isn’t everything as long as pitches are mixed well, but Vargas had such a terrible start to the season that this has become an aspect of his game highly criticized by fans.

Manager Mickey Callaway has committed to Vargas as the fifth starter for 2019. He cited Jason’s improvement in the second half of last season and believes that if he had participated in a full spring he would’ve come out of the gate stronger.

However, there are some moves the Mets can make to replace him in the rotation if he continues to perform poorly. Some of these potential moves involve rotating players currently on the roster, and some involve signing available free agents. Some options are more practical than others, but they all make some sort of sense.

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