Jason Vargas delivered when the Royals needed him

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Jason Vargas was truly awful down the stretch for the Royals. In a season when the Royals finished a game behind the Detroit Tigers for the American League Central, Vargas may have been the reason why they were unable to surpass the Tigers. Over his final four starts, Vargas lasted for a mere 18 innings, not getting through the sixth in either of them. In those 18 innings, Vargas allowed 18 runs on 23 hits and 7 walks, giving up four home runs. Opponents hit at a .299/.360/.519 rate against Vargas, as he essentially turned the opposition into David Ortiz.

Naturally, it was Vargas starting the first game of the ALDS for the Royals. Even though he had been solid throughout much of the year, there may not have been a starter that inspired less confidence in Royals fans than Vargas would have. Facing players like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, Vargas appeared as though he may have been lined up for slaughter.

Instead, with the help of several excellent plays by Lorenzo Cain and Nori Aoki, Jason Vargas looked more like the pitcher the Royals saw before the calender turned to September. Facing that powerful Angels lineup, Vargas allowed only two runs on three hits over six innings, walking one while striking out two batters. Unfortunately, Vargas was still prone to the longball, as both runs came on solo shots by David Freese and Chris Iannetta, but Vargas still performed quite well.

Even though Vargas had a no decision and gave up those home runs, this was still a solid outing. For all the struggles that he had down the stretch, Vargas managed to keep the hear of the Angels order from impacting the game, as Trout, Pujols and Hamilton were a combined 0-8 with a walk.

As the Royals are likely going to go as far in the playoffs as their pitching will take them, having the Jason Vargas from the first five months will go a long way to that. For the Royals going forward, and for Vargas’s confidence, he needed this outing. Vargas may finally getting back on track.

For at least one night, Jason Vargas looked like the Vargas from earlier in the season. The Royals needed Vargas to step up, and he delivered.

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