Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Mets left-hander Jason Vargas was so bad on Saturday night against the Braves that manager Mickey Callaway seemed to be at a loss after the game while explaining what went wrong.
"He's just not getting outs at this point," Callaway said. "That's really all I can say."
Callaway said more, though, noting that the Mets might skip Vargas' next start and that they "have to have other options" when it comes to the No. 5 spot in the rotation
Replacing Vargas, whether it's short-term or long-term, will ultimately be a decision made by GM Brodie Van Wagenen. But if the Mets are serious about being all-in on 2019 and Van Wagenen is serious about the "come get us" boast he made to the NL East before the season, they simply cannot allow Vargas to make his next start. Or the one after that.
Here are five options the Mets can tab to replace Vargas...
Keuchel is the only option that would cost anything, but he is by far the best option. And he would not only give the Mets a great replacement for Vargas, but could help shift the balance of power in the NL East.
The 31-year-old Keuchel isn't the pitcher he was during his Cy Young year in 2015, but he is still above average. And while his fastball only tops out around 90 MPH, it's still right where it's been for the majority of his career -- averaging 89.3 MPH this season, while his career average velocity is 89.2 MPH.
For Keuchel, it's always been about precision and keeping the ball down. And if he's pitching his home games at Citi Field, he should be able to use that to his advantage.
Keuchel, who has been throwing 95 pitch simulated games every five days and should be able to get ready relatively quickly, is reportedly seeking a one-year deal that will pay him more than the one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Astros he turned down during the offseason or a long-term contract at a lower salary, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
With each passing day, though, the odds of Keuchel getting the above diminishes. And the Mets should pounce.
Callaway said Saturday night that two options to replace Vargas could be Gsellman and Seth Lugo, which would mean moving one of them from the bullpen.
There are multiple issues at play when it comes to moving one of them, such as the fact that neither one is stretched out and the fact that the Mets would be taking one of their Top 5 bullpen arms away from a bullpen that has had some issues already this season.
If they are intent on doing it, though, the better bet is Gsellman, who is not relied on as much in the 'pen as Lugo.
Lugo really shouldn't be an option here, but is on the list because Callaway included him among those who could potentially replace Vargas.
We know that Lugo wants to be a starting pitcher, so he would definitely embrace the role. But as is noted above, the Mets' bullpen really can't afford to pull him at this point.
If the Mets did choose to make Lugo a starter to replace Vargas, the only truly acceptable replacement for him in the bullpen would be Craig Kimbrel, who is still a free agent. But Kimbrel isn't a multi-inning pitcher like Lugo, which again brings us back to the point that the Mets should leave Lugo where he is.
Oswalt replaced Vargas on Saturday night and got crushed, but it should be noted that he has been working as a starter this season and was thrown into a relief role without much time to prepare.
Still, Oswalt does not inspire confidence.
He had a 5.85 ERA (5.70 FIP) and 1.37 WHIP 64.2 innings (12 starts, five relief appearances) for the Mets in 2018, during what was his first taste of the majors.
Flexen has slimmed down considerably this season and there is some hope that he can turn into a piece for the Mets. But he has struggled so far with Triple-A Syracuse, with a 5.25 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 12.0 innings (two starts) while allowing three homers.
The 24-year-old Flexen has an unsightly 8.45 ERA and 2.15 WHIP in 54.1 big league innings (10 starts, eight relief appearances) with the Mets spanning 2017 and 2018.