Game 86, Royals at Mariners – Jason Vargas Is Doing What Now?

marc w · July 5, 2017 at 4:59 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Ariel Miranda vs. Jason Vargas, 7:10pm

Baseball fans love an underdog story. Sure, we love Noah Syndergaard’s 92mph sliders and we love Aaron Judge moonshots, but every year the out-of-nowhere stories capture our attention, and highlight just how little we know about this game. Jake Arrieta going from busted prospect to ace (and then back to something more run-of-the-mill) seemingly overnight. RA Dickey going from medical freak, to AAA depth, to knuckleballing Rule 5 guy to Cy Young winner. Collin McHugh or Dallas Keuchel going from punching bags to excellent starters, and, in Keuchel’s case, an elite, ace-level guy. Even well-known guys who have a clearly, unambiguously lucky year, it’s cool, and even fans of other teams can tip their caps: Phil Hughes’ insane 2014, maybe, or Kyle Hendricks’ 2016. Fangraphs takes a lot of flack for the formulaic, “Is X sustainable? Probably not,” articles, and part of the reason is that “Is X sustainable?” isn’t a question many are asking. They’re saying, “Isn’t this fun?”

Well, most of them. There’s a dark side of all of this, “Isn’t that nice for Jason Vargas,” who is currently 2nd in BBREF’s version of WAR and is leading the AL in ERA by a mile. Even by Fangraphs’ WAR, which ignores Vargas’ success in stranding runners, he’s in the top 20. The top of leaderboards isn’t where one looks for Jason Vargases (Vargii?). We all know Jason Vargas. Vargas was a perfectly reasonable, effective, generally durable middle-of-the-rotation starter with Seattle for a few years, and has been one for Anaheim and then Kansas City in the years since. This is not a Jake Arrieta story; he was never really a prospect, thanks to the fact that he’s never sat at 90 MPH. He hasn’t really “broken out” as he’s not striking out a ton more batters, or become a Keuchel-level ground ball guy. He’s just stranding runners and avoiding home runs despite giving up fly balls like they’re going out of style (they are most assuredly NOT going out of style). He’s just the same old Vargas, now throwing 1-2 MPH *slower* than he did in Seattle, and he’s leading the AL in ERA. It’s great, right? No, it’s not.

For every out-of-nowhere, or even fluky-great, season, there’s the equal and opposite. A beloved star falling back to the pack, or being mauled by it. For every Logan Morrison hitting bombs everywhere in Tampa, there’s the quiet, there’s Evan Longoria. For every Ben Gamel, there’s a Kyle Seager. And for Jason Vargas, there’s Felix. To state the obvious, Jason Vargas’ success hasn’t come at Felix’s expense. At least, I can’t prove that it has (I’m watching you, Jason). But the juxtaposition of Felix’s not-so-slow decline and Vargas’ look-what-I-found year rankles me for completely irrational reasons. That’s what being a fan is, I guess. We love a player and that means rooting against regression, age-related decline, injury, bad luck, and all manner of opponents that are $^&*ing invincible. The game chews up players like Felix, publicly, in front of their own themed cheering sections, and then has the cheek to elevate some completely average player to the upper tiers of the game. My mind has drawn a bizarre line between the two, and while that’s kind of indefensible logically, the two ARE related, albeit tangentially. You can’t crack a top 10 without someone else dropping out of it.

Here we were concerned about elbowing the Angels out of the Wild Card race, and we kind of missed the fact that Kansas City’s been, well, good, after taking the first month-6 weeks of the season off. The Royals now have a 3 game lead over the M’s in the WC race, and find themselves tied for 2nd in the odd AL Central. Like with the Twins, I look at the club and don’t see a good team, but there they are, 3 games up on the M’s after beating them in 2 straight with the back end of their rotation. As with Vargas himself, I do not find this team, this macro-Vargas story, very entertaining. I still *do* find the M’s entertaining, though the more entertaining they are, the more it raises expectations, and if you’ve been with us for a while, you know what the M’s do to high expectations.

1: Segura, SS
2: Valenica, 1B
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Gamel, LF
6: Haniger, RF
7: Zunino, C
8: Dyson, CF
9: Motter, 3B
SP: Miranda

Tyler O’Neill hit 2 opposite-field HRs in Reno last night in Tacoma’s 12-4 romp over the Aces to run away with the win for best batting line of the night last night. Not a banner night in the system for pitching, but I’ll go with Justin DeFratus’ start for Arkansas – he went 6 IP, giving up 2 earned runs in a loss to Corpus Christi. CC Hooks starter Framber Valdez held the Travs in check, with 9 Ks and 1 R allowed in 6 IP; the Astros may have another decent pitching prospect. Greeeaaat. He didn’t make the Astros’ top 30 list, but now has 85 Ks in 73 1/3 IP this year between hi-A and AA.


9 Responses to “Game 86, Royals at Mariners – Jason Vargas Is Doing What Now?”

  1. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2017 6:47 pm

    Vargas and Miranda – the two staff “aces”

  2. Grayfox3d on July 5th, 2017 7:39 pm

    Ya, so that’s not the kind of start you want when your hoping to stay away from the sweep….

  3. Sportszilla on July 5th, 2017 7:52 pm

    It is, however, the kind of recovery you want!

  4. Sportszilla on July 5th, 2017 8:07 pm

    It’s almost as if Vargas’s magically dinger-avoiding powers were a statistical fluke…

  5. Westside guy on July 5th, 2017 8:50 pm

    Pitchers duels are so exciting to watch…

  6. Grayfox3d on July 5th, 2017 9:44 pm

    Bringing in Diaz in a non save situation… this should get interesting.

  7. Westside guy on July 5th, 2017 10:11 pm

    Man, that’s two another-foot-or-two-and-they’re-home-runs the Mariners have hit to left field tonight…

  8. Grayfox3d on July 5th, 2017 10:25 pm

    Just didn’t have it in ya tonight huh Mariners… hit the 10th inning and immediately s**t the proverbial bed.

  9. Westside guy on July 5th, 2017 10:32 pm

    Bullpen blows it again. Is anyone surprised?

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