NEW YORK -- Since mid-April, Jason Vargas has been the most reliable pitcher on the Mets’ staff, and he has steadied the rotation. Wednesday was no exception. Vargas gave his club distance in the game and gave New York’s bullpen a break for the night, as the Mets won 7-0. Vargas scattered five hits and issued only one walk, with eight strikeouts.
“You can’t overlook the fact that we needed this bad,” manager Mickey Callaway said after the game. “This is something we really needed, so he stepped up big time when his team really needed him the most.”
Following a road trip that taxed the Mets’ bullpen and an extra-inning loss on Tuesday, the night off for the relievers was a very welcome respite, something Vargas noted after the game.
“It’s just nice to give all the guys in the bullpen a day off,” Vargas said. “It’s nice to be the guy walking off the field with the baseball, but I think it’s more satisfying to the guys down in the bullpen, [who] get to have a full-day recovery.”
It was Vargas’ longest outing since pitching a shutout for the Royals on June 2, 2017, more than two years ago. He had a 5.77 ERA in 20 starts for the Mets in ’18, but this season has been a different story, especially since April 19. In that span of seven starts, Vargas has a 1.85 ERA. He’s now allowed a run or fewer in three consecutive starts, and six of his last seven.
“When I’m in a position to get as far into a game as I can, I’m going to try to,” Vargas said.
Vargas hadn’t thrown more than 98 pitches in a game this season, but he tossed 117 on Wednesday night.
“He’s earned the right to continue, to go deeper and deeper into games, because he’s been pitching so well,” Callaway said. “When he does what he does best, he’s efficient, he keeps the ball down, he gets soft contact and he’s able to continue to go deep into games. And as long as he’s able to prove that he can do that, then we’re going to let him do it.”
Callaway noted how good Vargas’ fastball command has been lately. That success allows him to use his other pitches more effectively.
“Vargas just changes speeds so well and locates,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “You saw a guy that doesn’t power his way through us. But yet, he got a lot of swings and misses, a lot of soft contact. He kept us off balance. I’ve seen him do that to us before. We had a hard time stringing some hits together.”
It was the Mets’ second complete-game shutout this season. Noah Syndergaard pitched one on May 2. The last time New York had two complete-game shutouts in the same season was in 2013, when Matt Harvey and Jon Niese each threw one.