Jason Vargas
Jason Vargas
35-Year-Old PitcherSP
New York Mets
2018 Fantasy Outlook
Vargas was one of the biggest surprises of the first half, but his luck predictably ran out later in the year. After going 12-3 with a 2.62 ERA before the All-Star break, Vargas struggled to a 6.38 ERA and 1.60 WHIP over his final 15 starts (73.1 innings). The peripherals suggest that, on the whole, Vargas was far closer to the pitcher we saw in the second half than the one we saw over the first three and a half months, with his FIP and xFIP settling at 4.67 and 4.94, respectively. He displayed relatively sharp control with a 2.9 BB/9, but Vargas allowed a lot of contact (6.7 K/9), home runs were a major issue later in the campaign and lefty batters handled Vargas with ease (.356 wOBA). His lofty flyball rate makes significant improvement in the home-run department tough to envision, and the middling career strikeout rate gives him a hard ceiling in the fantasy game. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Mets in February of 2018. Contract includes a $8 million team option for 2020 and up to $3 million in incentives.
Throws quality start in victory
PNew York Mets
September 13, 2018
Vargas (6-9) picked up the win in Game 2 of Thursday's doubleheader against the Marlins. He allowed two earned runs, three hits and two walks while striking out seven over six innings.
Vargas did a great job of limiting damage in the victory, as his only blemish of the night was a two-run homer off the bat of Miguel Rojas in the third inning. Despite the impressive outing, it was only the third time in 18 starts this season that Vargas was able to pitch six or more innings. He'll carry a 6.47 ERA into his next start scheduled for Tuesday on the road against the Phillies.
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Pitching Stats
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .297 239 35 19 63 9 1 9
Since 2016vs Right .263 921 180 70 220 41 6 36
2018vs Left .270 85 15 9 20 2 0 3
2018vs Right .303 272 55 19 74 12 3 14
2017vs Left .311 148 20 10 41 6 1 5
2017vs Right .253 608 114 48 140 27 3 22
2016vs Left .333 6 0 0 2 1 0 1
2016vs Right .158 41 11 3 6 2 0 0
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
Since 2016Home 4.02 1.31 136.2 12 10 0 7.4 2.8 1.2
Since 2016Away 5.49 1.44 134.1 12 10 0 6.8 3.1 1.8
2018Home 4.78 1.31 32.0 3 4 0 10.4 2.5 1.1
2018Away 7.61 1.69 47.1 3 5 0 6.3 3.6 2.5
2017Home 4.00 1.33 96.2 9 6 0 6.4 3.0 1.3
2017Away 4.34 1.33 83.0 9 5 0 7.0 2.8 1.4
2016Home 1.13 1.00 8.0 0 0 0 7.9 2.3 0.0
2016Away 4.50 0.75 4.0 0 0 0 9.0 2.3 2.3
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Stat Review
How does Jason Vargas compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
86.5 mph
Strand %
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
A lengthy recovery from Tommy John surgery in July 2015 cost Vargas nearly his entire season in 2016, with three starts in September representing his only appearances. He was solid in those starts, allowing an earned run per start while stretching out from three to four to five innings. However, his 86.6 mph average fastball velocity was a 1.5 mph drop from his efforts in 2015, a red flag that his stuff might be diminished by surgery. That might be an overblown concern, as Vargas' game has always been more about mixing pitches, including a particularly strong changeup. If he is able to show his old stuff, it could be another passable season for an extreme flyball pitcher throwing in front of an elite outfield defense. Vargas has posted an ERA+ above 100 in all three of his years with Kansas City after doing it only once in his first eight years in the league.
Vargas started in just nine games for the Royals in 2015, where he posted a 5-2 record and a 3.98 ERA in 43 IP. When healthy, Vargas was proving to be a formidable arm in Kansas City's rotation. However, the 32-year-old pitcher took three trips to the DL all for different reasons. Vargas is well known for his ability to mix his pitches and has been claimed by many to have the best changeup in the game. This allows for Vargas to have high strikeout totals. The biggest issue for Vargas going into 2016 is the status of his elbow after undergoing Tommy John surgery in late July, which will hold him out of a significant portion of the 2016 season
Vargas posted the best ERA of his major league career in 2014 (3.71), and the advanced numbers suggest it wasn't a fluke, as his .299 BABIP and 74.5 percent strand rate were right in line with his career numbers. The 31-year-old journeyman has performed well when calling a pitcher-friendly park home over his career, as his 0.91 HR/9 rate and 8.2% HR/FB ratio both hadn't been replicated since his time in SafeCo Field with the Mariners. He ended up third on the team in both total strikeouts (128) and innings pitched (187), and came through when called upon in the playoffs, posting a 3.52 ERA over 15.1 postseason innings. Vargas may not have overpowering stuff, but uses a solid changeup and occasional curveball to get hitters out, and is especially effective against lefties, having limited them to just a .661 OPS and two home runs on the season. He's put together a steady nine-year MLB career, but just as in past seasons, Vargas likely won't strike out enough hitters to be a major fantasy asset outside of deeper mixed and AL-only formats in 2015.
Vargas missed nearly two months after getting a blood clot removed from his armpit in late June, but lulled hitters to sleep once again in 2013, posting a 4.02 ERA with the Halos. The veteran left-hander followed the formula which has made him a solid back end option in recent years last season: a low walk rate (2.8 BB/9) combined with soft-tossing deception (70.6% contact rate outside the strike zone). The Royals signed Vargas to a four-year, $32 million deal in November, as he represents an established presence who has the ability to throw 200 innings when healthy while posting a respectable, if unspectacular, ERA.
After consecutive years of absurdly low home-run rates – even more so considering his high flyball rates – Vargas normalized a bit in 2012, an ominous sign that was masked by Safeco Field, good defense, and luck. While Vargas' HR/9 rate ballooned to 1.45 last season (0.84, 0.99 the previous two years) and his HR/FB percent to 12.8 (6.1, 7.7), most of the damage was done on the road as spacious Safeco Field gave up just nine long balls in 98.2 innings. That resulted in a 2.74/4.78 home/road ERA split, but that's not the full story. Vargas' FIP (4.80) was nearly a full run higher than his ERA (3.85), and he stranded a career-high 73.8 percent of runners while posting a career-low .260 BABIP. Vargas' home protection will be reduced this year as he was traded to Anaheim in December for Kendrys Morales. If his luck changes too, he'll be in for tough times. His skill set remains a risky one to own despite the likelihood of improved run support and a very good outfield defense playing behind him in Anaheim.
The flyball-pitching Vargas continues to benefit from Safeco Field, even if his home-run rate inched up a little last season. Even though Vargas couldn't match his absurdly low home-run rate from 2010, he was still in rare company last season considering the number of flyballs he allows. Vargas' 43.9 flyball percentage ranked fifth in the AL last year, and only Jered Weaver gave up as many flyballs with a lower HR/FB rate than Vargas' 7.7 percent. Pitching in Safeco clearly helped, as Vargas posted a 46.4 flyball rate and 7.2 HR/FB mark at home. As a non-strikeout, pitch-to-contact hurler, Vargas is always going to be susceptible to crooked numbers – indeed, while his three shutouts ranked third in the AL, he also gave up at least five runs nine times – but pitching in a spacious home park at least helps keep the ball in the yard.
Vargas added a cut fastball last season and posted a career-high 62.5 first-strike percentage. He rolled through the first three months with a 2.80 ERA, but stumbled to a 4.76 ERA in the final three months as his BABIP normalized from .253 to .294. Vargas, though, benefited greatly from an absurdly low home-run rate. Vargas' 47.0 flyball percentage was fourth highest in the majors last season, but only 6.1 percent of his flyballs went for home runs. Playing in Safeco Field helped immensely as his home flyball rate was 48 percent and his home HR/FB rate was a mere 5.03 percent. Vargas is playing in the perfect park for his flyball ways, which explains his stark home/road splits.
Vargas was a regular on the Seattle-to-Tacoma train last year, hopping back and forth from Triple-A to the bigs as needed. He made 14 starts last season but isn't a good rotation option, and best that he can hope for in 2010 is to be a lefty out of the pen. In nine relief appearances last year, he struck out 13 and walked one.
Vargas missed all of 2008 with a torn labrum in his left hip and was dealt to Seattle in a three-way deal in December 2007. If Vargas comes back healthy, he'll likely have a shot at a middle-relief job in spring training. The Mariners have a couple of bullpen openings after losing J.J. Putz and Sean Green in the deal.
Vargas spent most of the year at Triple-A New Orleans, making two spot starts for the Mets. After an up-and-down first four months, Vargas closed with a bang in August and September before being sidelined with a bone spur in his pitching elbow that required surgery. He is expected to be healthy by spring training, where he may contend for a bullpen role.
Vargas started the year in the Marlins' rotation, but by the end of it he was back in the minors watching people like Anibal Sanchez zoom past him. Dealt to the Mets in the offseason, he'll still need to find a third pitch to have any prolonged success in the majors, no matter what uniform he's wearing.
Vargas made a splash in his first few starts after being called up after just three starts at Double-A, but faded as major league hitters figured out his two-pitch repertoire. He really needs more time in the minors to refine his arsenal, but the Marlins might decide to let him take his lumps at the back of their rotation in 2006.
More Fantasy News
Start postponed
PNew York Mets
September 12, 2018
Vargas' scheduled start against the Marlins on Wednesday was postponed, Matt Ehalt of The Bergen Record reports.
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Hit hard in loss
PNew York Mets
September 5, 2018
Vargas (5-9) got the loss Tuesday, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits and a walk while striking out two against the Dodgers.
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Picks up third straight win
PNew York Mets
August 29, 2018
Vargas (5-8) picked up the win Wednesday against the Cubs, allowing one run on four hits and one walk while striking out six across 5.1 innings.
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Fans season-high eight in win over Nats
PNew York Mets
August 25, 2018
Vargas (4-8) picked up the win in Friday's 3-0 victory over the Nationals, allowing three hits over six scoreless innings while striking out a season-high eight.
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Earns win against Phillies
PNew York Mets
August 19, 2018
Vargas (3-8) pitched 5.1 innings and earned the win Sunday, yielding two runs on six hits in the 8-2 win over Philadelphia. He struck out three and allowed a home run.
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