Jun 4, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas (51) throws to first base for an out in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Vargas, the Royals Other Ace

When one thinks of the Royals ace, two pitchers immediately come to mind. James Shields was imported from the Tampa Bay Rays to fill the vacant first starter spot, and has lived up to his own ace reputation with the Royals, posting a 21-12 record with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.253 WHiP in his year and a half in Kansas City. Yordano Ventura, he who has been nicknamed ‘Ace,’ could well be one in the making, given his electric fastball and comparisons to Pedro Martinez. Yet, this season, both have been outperformed by Jason Vargas.

Vargas, the pitcher brought in to replace Ervin Santana in the rotation, has been better than expected. Thus far, Vargas has a 7-2 record with a 3.25 ERA, a quarter run lower than Shields and almost equal to Ventura this year. In his fifteen starts, Vargas has had twelve quality starts. Regardless of what one thinks of that particular statistic, it does reflect how well Vargas has performed for the Royals this season.

With James Shields going through a recent rough patch, Jason Vargas has been the Royals most consistent pitcher through the first two and a half months of the season. Using the spacious grounds of Kauffman Stadium and the Royals excellent outfield defense to his advantage, Vargas is in the midst of what would be a career season.

Going forward in his Royals career, as Ventura matures and with the eventual ascension of Kyle Zimmer, Vargas will not need to be anything more than a third or fourth starter in Kansas City. However, Vargas has, thus far, outperformed the four year, $32 Million contract that he received this past offseason. Vargas, slotted between Shields and Ventura, has given the Royals quite the formidable top three in the rotation.

As unlikely as it may be that Jason Vargas will be able to continue at his current pace, he is presently performing at the same level as both Shields and Ventura. Despite being a vastly different pitcher in that he pitches more to contact than the others, Vargas has performed like a top of the rotation starter. In fact, Vargas has performed at the level of the Royals aces this year.

Jason Vargas is never going to be confused with James Shields or Yordano Ventura. In fact, it is highly unlikely that anyone will ever confuse Vargas for an ace. Yet, right now, Vargas is performing at that level for the Kansas City Royals.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Vargas is yet another example of the inadequacy of fips and flops and other sabr stats. He keeps the ball low, varies speed, induces weak contact and eats innings with few runs given up, the two most important things for a pitcher to do. Best stats to use on him are quality starts and my favorite, innings minus runs allowed. For the first stat, Vargas is on the front page, for the second he is also on the front page. He’s actually outperforming Shields and Ventura. What a mistake signing him, fire Dayton Moore :)

    Expounding on the second stat, which I have no name for, ignoring King Felix who is a force of nature, for innings minus runs we get some examples:

    Yu Darvish: 65.1

    Jason Vargas: 62.2

    Max Scherzer: 62.1

    James Shields: 48.2

  • Jeff Mills

    No mention of danny duffy in the royals starting rotation moving forward? Zimmer even still gets mention….even though I see red flags galore that he might be another mark prior. And yet somehow duffy is still chopped liver.