Starting Pitcher Jason Vargas #38
29 years old; Experience: six years
Jason Vargas is your perfect Seattle Mariner. He does some things well, but never does those things very flashy. He can be consistent through stretches, but isn't able to sustain that success over the entire season too often. By himself he isn't half bad, not something you want to depend on though. But make up a team full of Jason Vargas, and the Seattle Vargas would have the worst record in the league.
Vargas came over to the Mariners before 2009 as one of the seven players dealt with the New York Mets and the Cleveland Indians. He started with the squad in 2010 and put together a pretty respectable pitching line for a back of the rotation pitcher, an easily dismissive 9-12 record with a nice ERA of 3.78. Last year, Vargas' ERA went up a notch to 4.25. But he picked up another win in the process and strike out a few more batters as well.
This year, with Michael Pineda wearing the pinstripes, Vargas is now the number two starter in the rotation. That is a scary thought because on most other teams, Vargas would not be a number two starter. But the Mariners pitching staff has a pretty steep drop off. To give Vargas some credit, pretty much any pitcher pitching after Felix Hernandez is going to be a pretty steep drop off (minus those jerks in the rotation of the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff). It isn't all doom and gloom though, because a pitcher like Vargas is made better pitching in a park like Safeco Field. Vargas lives and dies off of contact. He isn't going to blow by many people with his fastball - he only used it 50% of the time last year and it would hardly pick up a speeding ticket on I-5. Vargas does a pretty decent job of keeping batters halfway off kilter. He has a good change-up that can produce a lot of fly balls, and luckily for Vargas fly balls sometimes have a tendency to stay on the right side of the fence in Safeco.
Still, it will be interesting to see how Vargas handles his new position of being the guy attempting to ensure the Mariners have a win streak going - because obviously every time King Felix pitches the Mariners have a better than they ever will chance of winning. If Vargas is able to reclaim some of that wily talent that made him a nice surprise of 2010, it will go a long way in helping this team survive with a halfway decent record into the summer.