MIAMI — At the end of the Mets’ 6-5 win Tuesday night against the Marlins, Jason Vargas’ line in his season debut looked fine: five innings, two runs.
For the Mets, who hypothetically need only modest production and innings-eating from their No. 5 starter if the other four stay healthy and good, it seems like a decent outing. But you don’t need to delve too far below those surface-level numbers to see red flags, particularly after he had a 5.77 ERA last season.
Vargas scattered eight hits and one walk, an unsustainable rate of nearly two baserunners per innings. He struck out two. And the Marlins, projected to be among the worst-hitting teams in the majors, made lots of hard contact.
Manager Mickey Callaway said Vargas “made his pitches” and “threw the ball well.”
“That’s standard Vargas,” Callaway said. “Go out there and make them mis-hit some balls and get a big ground ball at one point to turn a double play, which was big.”
The Marlins had nine batted balls with a hit speed of 95 mph or greater against the lefthander. (Five of those nine batted balls turned into outs.) Four times, a Miami batter flied or lined out to the warning track in the famously cavernous Marlins Park.
“That’s probably expected at times with him,” Callaway said. “He’s going to make them mis-hit it, and some of their mis-hits go a little bit farther than other guys’ mis-hits, but they result in outs. That’s just typical Vargas.”
Said Vargas, of what he could improve: “There’s always room for improvement, but I couldn’t pinpoint one thing right now for you.”
The Mets (4-1) did manage to squeeze five innings out of Vargas, though, an important contribution on a night when they were without Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia, who both pitched in three of the Mets’ first four games and warmed up in the other.
Seth Lugo, who Callaway said has been sick, allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings. Justin Wilson got the final five outs — including a game-ending line drive to shortstop Amed Rosario for a double play — for his first save since July 2017. The Mets won despite allowing 16 hits, and the Marlins left 14 on base.
The Mets came out strong against righthander Jose Urena (four innings) by scoring five runs in the first inning. Wilson Ramos and Dominic Smith (first start of the year) had RBI singles before Rosario drove in two with a double to left.
Brandon Nimmo left the game at the start of the eighth inning, replaced in leftfield by Keon Broxton minutes after getting hit in the left hand by a pitch. Wei-Yin Chen hit Nimmo with the bases loaded, forcing in the Mets’ difference-making run.
X-rays were negative, but Nimmo will be re-evaluated Wednesday.
“When you get hit in that part of your hand, you’re always concerned,” Callaway said.
The pitch left stitch marks on the knuckle of Nimmo’s ring finger. He said he was optimistic because he could make a fist more easily Tuesday night than he could after getting hit on two occasions in 2018. Both of those caused him to miss time, once on the injured list.
“It’s hard to tell right after — it’s stiff and tender — but my first inclination is it’s not as severe as the two that happened last year,” Nimmo said.
“The doctor will come in again tomorrow and do a double-check. But he’s looked it over. There’s nothing too concerning on the X-rays. He came in and poked around a little bit and wasn’t too concerned.”