Jason Vargas Looks to Avoid Second-Half Fall in 2018

By Ehalt, Matt | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), March 2, 2018 | Go to article overview

Jason Vargas Looks to Avoid Second-Half Fall in 2018


Ehalt, Matt, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Dave Eiland listened for a few seconds to a question regarding Jason Vargas' drastic splits in 2017, and then stopped the reporter midsentence.

Eiland knows better than almost anyone about Vargas' fantastic start and awful finish with the Royals in 2017, and the Mets' pitching coach wanted to put it in perspective.

"Don't forget that Vargas did not pitch in 2016," Eiland said.

Last season marked Vargas' first full season in the major since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, and the veteran lefty and his coaching staff are hopeful he can avoid another disappointing second half now that he's further removed from the surgery.

Vargas posted a 6.38 ERA in his final 15 starts last year, and that skid changed the perception of Vargas' 18-win campaign, which tied him for the most wins in MLB.

The southpaw made his camp debut Thursday afternoon tossing two innings of one-run ball in a 3-2 loss to Miami. He yielded a solo homer.

"I hope that I'm stronger, definitely hope I'm stronger in the second half. Only time will tell," Vargas said. "I'm hopeful the work that has been put in and continuing all the things I've done in the past until now show up as the season progresses."

The Mets signed Vargas last month to add a reliable starting pitcher to a unit filled with uncertainties. The team believes it can count of Vargas to take the ball every five days provided he's healthy, and he's a pretty safe bet to toss at least 150 innings.

What is less certain is what version of Vargas the Mets are going to employ, and the Mets need it to be the version from the first half of 2017.

After missing almost all of the 2015-16 seasons due to Tommy John, Vargas went 12-3 with a 2.62 ERA in his first 17 starts last year. Opponents hit .244 against him.

The second half was a different tale. Vargas went 6-8 in his final 15 outings, and posted a 1.595 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). …

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