Jason Vargas was a disaster for the Mets in the first half of last year and then he rebounded in the second half. He was injured in Spring Training and didn’t start rehabbing until around the start of the season. His first several starts were so bad. He could barely get anyone out, tons of runs scoring, complete lack of confidence of the Mets winning he pitched:
2018 Total: 92 IP, 5.77 ERA, 5.02 FIP, 1.413 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, -0.3 WAR, 4.11 DRA
2018 (Before Aug 7): 12 G, 47.1 IP, 8.75 ERA
2018 (After Aug 7): 8 G, 44.2 IP, 2.62 ERA
Career: 4.27 ERA, 4.40 FIP, 1.318 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 4.60 DRA
The Mets are hoping in 2019 that he is more like his last 8 games than his first 12 games. The Mets had the opportunity to sign free agents that on paper had a better track record this off-season, but they didn’t. They are fully committed, for better or for worse to Vargas. Let’s take a peak as to what projection programs think he’ll do:
(Citations: Baseball Prospectus (BP) projections are from the Baseball Prospectus annual which can you can get here. It’s highly recommended. ESPN projections can be found here. ZiPS can be found here. Steamer can be found here. Baseball Reference projections (BR) can found on the players BR page which linked elsewhere on this article. )
Even though Vargas is a well established veteran, after a year as dichotomous as his 2018, the projections are split on how he’ll do. ZiPS and ESPN see a trend with keeping him regressing. Steamer and BR have him slightly worse than his average numbers, which would be instep with age. BP, generally the most conservative source has Vargas performing better than his career numbers.
The NL East is going to be a slog all season long. For the Mets to win, they are going to need Jason Vargas to be like that BP projection. Maybe there’s hope for Jason in a Mets uniform! We’ll find out in about a week when he makes his 2019 debut.