Mar 1, 2018

The 2017 A.L. Victory Leader & 2018 Mets Pitcher: Jason Vargas (2007 / 2018)

Jason Matthew Vargas was born on February 2, 1983 in Apple Valley California. The six foot left hander was signed by the Florida Marlins in 2004 as a second round pick. Vargas originally went to Louisiana State University but transferred out in his freshman year.

He then attended California State University at Long Beach, a school that had 33 major league players come out of it including Evan Longoria, Jason Giambi & 1969 Met Rod Gaspar.

Vargas got to the majors right away going 5-5 for the 2005 Marlins from July through the rest of the season posting a 4.03 ERA in 17 games. He came in eighth in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 2006 he began the year with the Marlins, getting his first start of the year at Shea Stadium in the fourth game of the year. That day the Mets scored five runs on eight hits off Vargas in five innings of work, including a David Wright HR.

After 12 games he was sent down to AAA with a 1-2 record & a 7.33 ERA. He went 3-6 at AAA Albuquerque the rest of the year, getting traded to the New York Mets in November for Matt Lindstrom & Henry Owens. Owens pitched in three games with the '06 Mets & Lindstrom never appeared in a Met uniform.

Vargas rejoined his old Florida teammates Carlos Delgado; who was the first player to shake his hand when he arrived in Spring Training & his favorite catcher; Paul LoDuca. He was called up to help out the 2007 Mets staff early on after Mike Pelfrey went 0-5. He filled in Moises Alou's roster spot when he got injured & got the start at Shea Stadium on May 17th against the Chicago Cubs. He allowed five runs over seven innings earning no decision as the Mets went on to win it 6-5.

He got sent down right away but was called up for a July 3rd start in Colorado. The Rockies beat him up for nine earned runs & eleven hits including HRs by Yorvit Torrealba & Garrett Atkins. It was his last appearance as a New York Met, he went 9-7 with a 4.97 ERA in 24 games at AAA New Orleans the rest of the year.

He then missed all of the 2008 season after getting bone spurs removed & then surgery to repair a torn labrum. That winter he was traded to the Seattle Mariners along with Endy Chavez & Aaron Heilman in a three team trade, as the Mets received JJ Putz, Sean Green & Jeremy Reed.

In 2009 he worked his way into the Mariner rotation & by 2010 he made 31 starts as the number two man behind Felix Hernandez. Vargas went 9-12 with a 3.78 ERA & 118 strike outs. In 2011 he was 10-13 with three shut outs (3rd in the AL) four complete games (4th in the AL) a 4.35 ERA 131 strike outs in 201 innings pitched making 32 starts.

In 2012 Vargas led the Mariner staff with 14 wins. He was 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA making 33 starts (4th in the league). He pitched over 200 innings for the second straight season as well. In December he was traded to the Anahiem Angles for Kendrys Morales.

In one brief season with the Angels he was 9-8 with three complete games & a 4.02 ERA. At the end of the season he signed on with the Kansas City Royals where he won a World Championship & two AL Championship titles.

In the 2014 AL Championship year he was named the teams number three starter & was to be one of four Royals to win eleven or more games, going 11-10 with a 3.71 ERA. He struck out 128 batters walking just 41 in 187 innings of work. 

Post Season: In the ALDS he got the Game #1 start against his old Angels team mates. He allowed two runs, two HRs over six innings, earning no decision in the 3-2 Royals win.

In the ALCS he earned his first post season career win, beating the Baltimore Orioles in Game #4, finishing off the Royals series sweep. He allowed just one run in five innings, while striking out six.

In the World Series he started the 11-4 Game #4 loss to the San Francisco Giants. In four innings he gave up three runs on six hits, but had left the game with his team still up 4-2.

After starting out 2015 going 5-2 with a 3.98 ERA, he had to leave a July 21st game with an injury to his throwing arm. It ended up being a UCL in his left elbow requiring Tommy John surgery. He missed the rest of the year, the world series & most of 2016.

In 2017 he returned 100% and won his first three starts. In those three starts he pitched 14 innings allowing just one earned run with 23 strike outs, walking just two. 

He was 12-3 with one of the leagues best ERA's (2.22) at the All Star break, earning him a spot on the AL All Star team staff.

He struggled in the second half, losing five of six games in August into September. He then won four straight in September to finish the year with career high in wins (18) which was the most wins in the American League. 

He was 18-11 with 134 strike outs, 58 walks & a 4.16 ERA in 179 innings in 32 starts. He is also a good fielder posting a perfect 1.000% for the second time in his career, best in the league. In his 12 year career, he is 85-81 with a 4.17 ERA, 939 strike outs, 415 walks in 1401 innings of work, 228 starts in 248 games.

In February of 2018, the Mets surprisingly pulled off a deal for Vargas worth $16 million over two years with a third year option, adding to a potentially already strong pitching staff.

Not only is he reunited with the Mets but his former KC pitching coach, Dave Eiland. His signing adds completion in Spring Training & a crowded back end of the rotation, which should be a good thing.

Family: Vargas married his high school sweetheart Shelly & they have three children.

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