Vargas (calf) to DL; Blevins steps in to start

Veteran lefty injured during sprints; reliever allows 2 HRs in 2 IP

June 24th, 2018

NEW YORK -- The day after one of his worst starts to date in a disappointing season, was wrapping up his daily conditioning when, during a sprint, he felt a tweak in his right calf. Vargas spent the next few days nursing the injury, but ultimately could not recover in time to make his scheduled start Sunday against the Dodgers.

Scrambling to replace him, the Mets placed Vargas on the 10-day disabled list due to a calf strain, announcing that would make his first start in his 533rd career appearance in his place.

"Throwing and doing everything you would need to do just to throw a pitch doesn't really affect my calf that much," Vargas said. "But when I would break to go and try to cover first base, it was definitely an issue yesterday when we tried to simulate what would happen in the game. It probably wasn't the best to take the risk."

Blevins worked two innings in the start, allowing two runs on two hits -- back-to-back homers from and to lead off the game. Blevins faced eight batters and struck out three, with the Mets calling on right-hander Tim Peterson to start the third inning.

Vargas' injury is just the latest hiccup in a season that began going haywire shortly after he signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Mets in February. About a month later, Vargas broke a bone in his glove hand, forcing him to start the season on the DL. When he returned, he struggled, posting a 13.86 ERA over his first three starts.

Though Vargas rebounded to go 2-2 with a 3.91 ERA over his next five outings, he reverted to previous form in allowing three home runs at Coors Field, allowing seven runs over 2 1/3 innings to bloat his ERA to 8.60. In the days between that start and Saturday, he injured his calf.

"I'm not necessarily frustrated about the things that have happened as far as with the hand or the calf," said Vargas, who hopes to miss only one start. "Being a competitor, you get more frustrated with gaining traction, and really knowing that you're going out there giving other teammates an opportunity to win. Those are the most frustrating things for players, and for myself as well, are not the things that happen because you play the game, but your ability to really be a person they can count on."

To replace Vargas on the active roster, the Mets called up right-hander , whom they demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday. But rather than start Flexen -- who took a red-eye flight to New York, arrived at Citi Field around 7 a.m. and owns a career 8.05 ERA in the Majors -- the Mets chose to play matchups in the first inning with Blevins, their lefty specialist. The Dodgers countered by leading off Hernandez, one of their best right-handed hitters.