One of the biggest questions for the Kansas City Royals this offseason was the question of how they would replace Ervin Santana. Even though the Royals signed Jason Vargas to a four year contract, it seemed unlikely that he would be able to replicate the type of season that Santana had last year. Yet, if Spring Training is any indication, Vargas may well do just that.
In his five Spring Training outings, Vargas has put together a 2.14 ERA and a 1.19 WHiP, striking out 13 batters while allowing only three walks. His outing yesterday against the Texas Rangers was the type of outing that the Royals dreamed of when signing Vargas – a seven inning performance where he gave up one run on eight hits and a walk, striking out five. Should Vargas put together that type of performance, where he is allowing nine baserunners in seven innings consistently, the Royals should be in most of those games.
Yes, the normal caveats from this time of year apply. it is a small sample size. Spring Training statistics do not matter. All of those are true. Yet, it is certainly better to see Jason Vargas pitching well in Spring Training than to be concerned that he could be throwing batting practice once the season begins.
In fact, it may not be unreasonable to think that Vargas could perform at a similar level to how Santana did last season. In 2013, Santana produced a 3.24 ERA, a 1.142 WHiP and a 3.16 strikeout to walk rate. Based on how Vargas has performed thus far, and with the excellent defensive outfield that the Royals possess, he could produce similar numbers. With the expansive outfield and the Royals stellar defense behind him, Vargas could be primed for a career season.
Jason Vargas was signed to replace Ervin Santana in the rotation. If Spring Training is any indication, that plan may actually end up working out for the Royals.