Feb 1, 2020

Jason Vargas: Former Mets Pitcher (2007 / 2018-2019)

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. 

2014 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.

2014 ALCS: 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.

2014 World Series: 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 February of 2018, the Mets gave him a deal worth $16 million over two years with a third year option. He was reunited with his KC pitching coach Dave Eiland.

But his return to the Mets was another part of a dismal season. He broke his hand in March & missed the first month of the season.

He made his first start on April 28th in San Diego. It was a debacle, allowing nine runs on  nine hits in four innings of work. On May 3rd he surrendered six runs to the Atlanta Braves in an 11-0 Mets loss. He started out at 0-3 with an ERA of 13.86.

On May 21st he got his first win, a five inning shut out performance at Citi Field against the Miami Marlins. He closed out May with another five inning, shut out, this one in Atlanta over the Braves. In June he made three starts all resulting in losses. He landed back on the DL returning at the end of July.

He fell to 2-8 before winning three straight games at the end of August. In that time he gave up just three earned runs in 12 innings, lowering his ERA below seven for the first time all year. Overall he won five of his last six games to end the season.

On September 27th, he had his best start of the year, seven shut out innings with six -strikeouts, in a win over the Braves at Citi Field. Vargas ended the year at 7-9 with a 5.77 ERA. with 84 strikeouts & 30 walks in 92 innings of work.

2019: To begin 2019, he was penciled in as the Mets fifth starter. He pitched their fifth game of the year, earning a win over the Marlins in Miami. He made an April 9th relief appearance, serving up four runs in an inning, in a Mets 14-8 loss to the Twins.

On April 13th, he was rocked for four runs on two hits & three walks, never getting out of the 1st inning. His ERA was at 14.21. He allowed one run against the Cardinals but got no decision. He gave up just one run in three straight starts but got two no decisions & a loss to the Phillies as the Mets were shut out 6-0. 

In May his bad luck continued, he went 0-2 although he gave up just one earned run in two of three starts. On June 5th, he threw a complete game shut out over the San Francisco Giants, striking out eight in a 7-0 Mets win. Another win followed in the subway series, to get him to .500 at 3-3.

Drama: On June 21st, he threatened to punch out a Newsday reporter, in the locker room at Wrigley Field after a 5-4 Mets win where he got no decisions. The Mets fined him $10,000 for his actions.

Vargas took losses in the subway series & in Miami falling to 3-5. As the Mets
began to win, Vargas reaped the benefits inning three straight games. But he was not in the Mets plans at 6- with a 4.01 ERA he was traded to the Phillies oat the end of July.

He went 1-4 with the Phils posting a 5,37 ERA. On August 31st, the Mets rocked him for five runs on four hits as he took the loss in Philadelphia. He was granted free agency after the season & was still unsigned in January 2020.

In his 14 year career he is 99-99 with 13 complete games & eight shut outs. He struck out 1147 batters with 508 walks in 1643 innings & 277 games (277 starts).

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

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