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Vargas and Robles and Boy Is It Hopeless

Technically, there’s no rule against using Jason Vargas [1] and Hansel Robles [2] in the same game, but that doesn’t mean a manager should be allowed to do it. Nevertheless, Mickey Callaway challenged common sense if not the letter of the law, and inevitable results ensued Tuesday night in Cincinnati. Vargas was characteristically horrible. Robles was predictably worse. Following the lead of their veteran starter and featured reliever, the Mets fell to the Reds [3], 7-2.

The offense, shorn of hamstrung and thus DL’d Todd Frazier, didn’t achieve much either — Luis Castillo of the not that Luis Castillos kept them off the basepaths until the fifth — but who noticed? Some nights the Mets’ hitting is so futile, their pitching is immaterial. Other nights it flips. The Mets are versatile that way.

Vargas seemed to have his best start as a Met 2.0, which is to say he gave up only four runs in four innings when it seemed he’d give up four runs in every inning. He was having trouble getting outs on the ground, in the air or with a baseball. The most impressive aspect of his performance was his ability to differentiate among the myriad at-bats in which he put runners on base when reporters asked afterward what went wrong. Robles, who was called up when Matt Harvey was designated for assignment on the premise that the Mets weren’t doing anything with that roster spot anyway, surrendered about as many runs as a person unintentionally could in a third of an inning. The laser beam home run he served up like a brimming bowl of Skyline Chili to Scooter Gennett got out of Great American Ball Park so fast that Hansel is only now raising his index finger toward its exhaust fumes.

While the fourth-place Mets were still the third-place Mets, they unloaded the aforementioned Harvey on the Reds in exchange for their injury-riddled former starting catcher, Devin Mesoraco [4]. Everybody responded to the news with the same understandable knee-jerk Tom Seaver reference, though we should note the Mets have been trading in-season with the Reds [5] since they sent Don Zimmer to Cincinnati on May 6, 1962, and received in exchange the second Bob Miller and the only Cliff Cook. Reds from Jesse Gonder to Jay Bruce have followed a similar eastbound trail to suddenly become Mets, though few quite as suddenly as Mesoraco, who was batting seventh in the originally posted Reds lineup Tuesday. Devin took BP with the Reds, struck out pinch-hitting for the Mets in the ninth and instantly became our best apparently healthy starting catcher. His presence couldn’t hurt. The same can’t be said of at least two of the pitchers he might catch.

As for Harvey, the most compelling similarity he shares with Seaver these days is they’ve both lived in Connecticut and soon they’ll both have lived in Ohio.