Jason Vargas, LHP
Height: 6 feet
2010 salary: $412,500
2010 stats: 9-12, 3.78 ERA in 31 starts, 192 innings.
Like every other Seattle pitcher, Vargas pitched better than his win-loss record. Second on the club in innings and was 9-5 with a 3.15 ERA in his first 23 starts. Some guys have a knack for making pitches and getting outs, and Vargas knows how to pitch, how to avoid mistakes,” Tacoma manager Daren Brown said. “If he misses with a pitch inside, he misses inside, not over the plate. He knows how to pitch with his stuff – that’s big for any pitcher.” With the third-lowest run support among American League starters, Vargas got two runs or less in 20 starts.
A late-season fade saw Vargas go 0-7 with a 5.74 ERA in his last eight starts. As the innings piled up, his ability to control the strike zone wavered. “With young pitchers, you see them struggle when they get to more innings than they’ve thrown before,” Brown said. “Jason wanted the ball every fifth day, though, and in truth late in the season he just never got away with a mistake.”
Summing up Vargas’s 2010
A breakout year in terms of establishing himself as a viable starter, Vargas pitched to his strengths, piled up innings and could easily have won 15 games. No, he’s not a No. 2 starter – not in a good rotation – but Vargas ate innings and kept his team in games.
Looking to 2011:
Vargas isn’t going to suddenly develop more velocity or dominate hitters, but there’s no reason to think he can’t improve upon last season. “Any time you get in that area you haven’t been before innings-wise, your body reacts differently” Brown said. “But he’ll benefit from it – now he’s been there before, he’s more prepared to deal with it. He’s got a good changeup, a decent sinker and he knows how to pitch.”