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Jason Vargas joining Mets’ rotation, but nothing is guaranteed

Mets pitcher Jason Vargas talks to reporters on

Mets pitcher Jason Vargas talks to reporters on Feb. 18, 2018 during a spring training workout in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

ST. LOUIS — Jason Vargas is scheduled to make his Mets debut Saturday against the Padres, as expected after he came through his four-inning, three-run rehab start Monday with Triple-A Las Vegas just fine. He joined the Mets at Busch Stadium on Tuesday. He replaces new reliever Matt Harvey to re-complete the rotation.

For now.

Manager Mickey Callaway described the Mets’ starting five as a fluid one. As was the case during spring training, when at least two rotation spots were up for grabs, the Mets don’t appear to have any qualms about making changes when merited.

“Everybody should know that we’re not just going to hand out starting jobs because you’re a starter,” Callaway said.

Zack Wheeler (4.24 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) had been pretty good until Tuesday’s rough start. Steven Matz (4.42 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) has been OK in his four outings.

And the Mets have options. Of the four relievers listed on their lineup card Tuesday, half are starters by trade: Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Corey Oswalt.

Callaway’s philosophy is that pressure — in this instance, pressure to perform to keep one’s job — isn’t a bad thing.

“You have to go out and get the job done, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having that pressure on you,” Callaway said. “Because there’s going to come a time where if we do something special and get where we want to get, the pressure is going to be really bad.

“If you can’t handle making starts because there’s other people that can start, how are you going to pitch in the playoffs and win us a game?”

The long game

Callaway didn’t sound desperate Tuesday for more innings from his starting pitchers.

“I don’t know that we can expect them to go deeper in the game,” Callaway said. “I thought we’ve done a pretty good job of that, just overall, if you look at what guys do in the league. The one thing that we will have to pay attention to is making sure that [relievers] continue to be rested.”

The Mets began their week ranked tied for ninth in innings per start at 5.6. They were tied for eighth in pitches per start at 92.

New York Sports