|Old school: Wainwright, Vargas duel as Cards host Mets|
The St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets both opened the season hoping an aging former All-Star could provide veteran stability as the fifth starter in an otherwise young rotation.
There is no better time than now for the Mets to begin getting out of Jason Vargas what the Cardinals have received from Adam Wainwright.
Two of the oldest starting pitchers in baseball will oppose one another Friday night when the Cardinals host the Mets in the opener of a three-game series.
Both teams were off Thursday after completing road series against division foes Wednesday, when the Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-3, and the Mets fell to the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-2.
As of Thursday, the 36-year-old Vargas (1-0, 14.21 ERA) and 37-year-old Wainwright (1-1, 3.94 ERA) were two of just six pitchers age 36 or older who have made starts this season. But Wainwright looks far closer to regaining his past form than Vargas.
Everyone in the Cardinals dugout was encouraged in defeat last Saturday, when Wainwright took a hard-luck loss after allowing two runs -- on solo homers by Jesse Winker and Derek Dietrich -- over six-plus innings as the Cardinals fell to the Cincinnati Reds, 5-2, in Monterrey, Mexico.
Wainwright didn't allow a hit until Winker homered with one out in the sixth. He gave up just three hits against the Reds and has permitted 10 baserunners over 12 innings in his last two starts.
"If I go out and make pitches like I did tonight the rest of the year, I'll take my chances," Wainwright told reporters afterward.
Vargas, on the other hand, may not get many more chances if he keeps pitching like he did in the first half of April. The southpaw managed to avoid factoring into the decision last Saturday despite allowing four runs over just one-third of an inning in the Mets' 11-7 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
The one-out start was tied for the shortest of Vargas' career, which stretches back to 2005 and includes 250 starts. The rough outing against the Braves came immediately after Vargas made his first relief appearance of the decade and gave up four runs in an inning against the Minnesota Twins on April 9.
"We've got to get Vargas involved if we are going to be the best team," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said Sunday. "Vargas needs to pitch well and we'll give him every opportunity to do that."
But time could be running out out on Vargas. The Mets have reportedly checked in with free agent Dallas Keuchel and talked to the Texas Rangers about left-hander Mike Minor, who is 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA and the American League's lone shutout entering Thursday.
Vargas was originally scheduled to pitch Saturday before swapping spots with reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who was pushed back due to a bout with strep throat.
Vargas is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in five career games (four starts) against the Cardinals.
Wainwright is 5-5 with a 4.54 ERA in 13 regular season appearances (11 starts) against the Mets. He also tossed four scoreless innings over three appearances and earned two saves -- in Game 5 and the decisive Game 7 -- against New York in the 2006 National League Championship Series.
--Field Level Media