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2015 Season Projections: Jason Vargas

Was he a "major announcement" after all?

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Last winter, the Royals made a "major announcement" to announce they had signed pitcher Jason Vargas to a four-year $32 million deal. While the deal was dismissed by many observers, Vargas quietly turned in one of his better seasons and easily justified the first year of that deal, with a 3.71 ERA over 30 starts and a 2.4 rWAR season.

Vargas posted the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career at 3.12 and has seen a slight uptick in his strikeout rate the last two seasons. Vargas has improved at suppressing home runs since giving up 35 dingers for Seattle in 2012 - he has given up just 36 in the two seasons since. It wasn't really Kauffman Stadium doing the suppressing either, 12 of the 19 home runs Vargas gave up were at home. Where Kauffman did seem to help Vargas was in throwing strikes - he walked just 10 hitters in 16 starts at Kauffman Stadium.

2014 Season 3.71 3.84 6.2 2.0 2.4
Career per 162 games 4.20 4.33 5.9 2.6 1.8
2015 ZIPS 4.39 4.64 5.7 2.2 0.8
2015 Steamer 4.09 4.27 6.0 2.3 1.6
2015 PECOTA 4.45 4.84 5.6 2.3 -0.8

Jason Vargas has relied more on ground balls the last two seasons, although he is still a fly ball pitcher. His fastball was more effective last year, but overall his numbers are pretty constant from year-to-year with marginal improvements the last two seasons.

Vargas was pretty healthy in 2014, only missing a few starts for a freak appendectomy. Vargas is not a starter that will consistently go deep into ballgames, but he did last six innings or more in 20 of his 30 starts last year.

The word that best describe Vargas is a Simpsons reference I use often - "cromulent." Vargas is a very serviceable middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who has established himself as a consistent performer. While the projection models all predict regression from Vargas in 2015, the trendlines the last two seasons are good for the 32-year old left-hander. With the Royals outfield defense behind him, Vargas should be a solid performer if he is able to continue to  keep the walks down.

What do you expect out of Jason Vargas in 2015?