Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Aside from Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz, the Mets have one spot in their starting rotation that has been taken up by a mix of Jason Vargas, Corey Oswalt, and others this season.
And even though Vargas has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this year, dealt with multiple injuries, and shuffled between the bullpen and rotation, he'll likely have a regular spot in the rotation down the stretch instead of Oswalt. But Oswalt does have a fan in Mickey Callaway.
"I'd like to see him pitch as much as possible," Callaway said over the weekend. "I think what we need to focus on is that he's pitching every fifth day, and it doesn't have to be here. We have to get him in a routine to see what he can do because if he does the right things, he's got the stuff."
Since getting hit hard on June 29, when he allowed six runs in 2.2 innings, Oswalt's last five starts have been strong.
He allowed two runs in 4.0 innings on July 4 against the Blue Jays, getting lifted after just 65 pitches with the Mets following the preseason edict of removing their non-ace pitchers before the third turn through the order.
Oswalt then made three more starts in July, allowing six runs in 15 innings to finish the month with a 3.60 ERA. On Sunday, he allowed three runs in 6.0 innings while walking none and striking out four.
While Oswalt's season ERA (5.13) is still high due to struggling during his lone start in June, his WHIP (1.05) is a sign that he should be taken seriously as an option for 2019 and beyond. And a sign that he may be a much better option than Vargas.
Meanwhile, Vargas has done the following...
- Failed to pitch more than 5.0 innings in any of his 11 starts this season
- Posted an 8.23 ERA and 1.79 WHIP in 47.0 innings
- Allowed 12 home runs, which extrapolates to roughly 50 over a full season
Vargas' struggles have come on the heels of his brutal second half in 2018. That finish came after his stats in the first half made him an All-Star. Most (incluiding the Mets, obviously) thought his second half in 2018 was an aberration. But it seems like it might be the norm. And with nothing left to play for in 2018, Vargas should be in the bullpen with Oswalt in the rotation -- with the Mets, not in Las Vegas.
Along with Oswalt, the Mets need to see what they have with younger players who might be able to contribute in big or small ways next season and beyond. They've already started to do that with Jeff McNeil and some of their young relievers, and it's possible Peter Alonso could join them in a matter of weeks.
The tricky thing is that Vargas is under contract for the 2019 season, when he will earn $8 million. But the Mets putting him in the bullpen for the rest of this season wouldn't preclude them from using him in the rotation in 2019 if they want to. It'll just give them the opportunity to see what they have with Oswalt. And that's the most important thing.