HEADLINE

Mets nemesis for Dodgers starter Hill

The Sports Xchange

September 04, 2018 at 2:05 am.

LOS ANGELES — Rich Hill might be inspired to get out some aggressions Tuesday and the Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander could unleash his venom on the New York Mets.

It is not that Hill has anything against the Mets in particular, they just happen to be the team in his way now after he took the loss on Thursday in the opener of a showdown series with the club’s National League West rival Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers won three of four games in the previous series against the Diamondbacks to regain first place in the division. Hill’s day to pitch was the only one that did not go to plan.

Further inspiring Hill on Tuesday is the fact that the Dodgers fell out of first place with a 4-2 defeat to the Mets on Monday. The Dodgers now trail the Colorado Rockies in the National League West by a half game.

The Dodgers still got a strong start from Alex Wood on Monday and Hill figures to follow the game plan of a fellow left-hander.

“This past weekend against Arizona it felt like playoffs, like it’s time to go,” Wood said. “We’ve been playing well lately, and it was a tough one (Monday). Sometimes you have to tip your cap and come back tomorrow and get the (victory).”

Standing in the way of both Hill and the Dodgers will be Mets starter Jason Vargas (5-8, 6.56 ERA), who has finally turned a corner after a season that had not met his standards.

Vargas is 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA over his last four starts and appears to finally be at full strength after spending over a month on the disabled list with a calf strain. Vargas was supposed to start against the Dodgers in June, but he injured himself preparing for that start and hit the DL.

At long last, Vargas is finally looking like the pitcher the Mets expected when they signed him to a two-year, $16 million deal in February. Before he went on the DL, he was 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP in his first 37 2/3 innings.

Finally having all his pitches in sync has not only made Vargas better on the mound, but he has also become the master of the obvious.

“It’s a lot easier when you’re able to go at them with three pitches that you know you have command of and you have the ability to make the guys swing and miss with,” Vargas said. “Pitching well is definitely better than pitching bad.”

Vargas has suddenly given the much-improved Mets an intimidating 1-2 punch with fellow starter Jacob deGrom, who gave up just one run and two hits over six innings Monday to help set up New York’s series-opening victory over the Dodgers.

Hill (6-5, 3.59) has faced the Mets seven times in his career, with five of those as a starter. He is 1-2 against New York with a hefty 7.83 ERA over 23 innings.

In four career starts against the Dodgers, Vargas is 2-2 with a 4.39 ERA. He hasn’t faced them since 2013, though, giving up two runs over seven innings as a member of the Los Angeles Angels.