If the Cubs plan on winning—and/or seeing the Mariners' bullpen—this week, they better do something tonight against Jason Vargas. Vargas is a mediocre-turned-crafty left-hander.
Vargas is nothing like the surgeon Dr. Lee who will cut up the Cubs on Wednesday night. King Felix follows. Maybe David Aardsma will make an appearance to haunt one of his former clubs.
This has been a career year for Vargas, a young guy who has already bounced around a bit. Drafted but not signed out of high school, he spent time at three colleges and is now with his third big league team. As a matter of fact, you may remember him beating the Cubs when he was with the Mets. It was May 17, 2007 and before the eventual division winning Cubs got their act together.
What to expect from Vargas?
- At least 90 pitches and about six innings: Vargas has thrown between 89 and 108 pitches in each start, going at least five but never finishing eight frames
- One or two walks and maybe four strikeouts: Vargas has had an eight strike-out game, but is generally pitching to contact and doesn't issue many free passes
- Slow stuff: His fastest pitch on record, back to 2008, is 92 mph and he averages 88 with both his four- and two-seam fastballs
- Slower stuff: Vargas has a change-up that averages 80 mph, a 75 mph curveball [that is (a) pretty lame; and (b) rarely thrown] and an 84 mph slutter of some kind(s)
- Fly balls: Only a third of balls put in play against Vargas are on the ground and he throws strikes with all of his pitches—expect contact early and often when the North Siders are in the box tonight
Hope for Cubs right-handed batters to be aggressive on him early in the count. His most hittable pitches are the curveball and the sinker, and he's most likely to throw them to on first pitches to righties or when he's behind to righties. If he gets ahead he can be effective with the change-up, four-seam fastball and slutter.
Left-handed batters will see a pretty steady diet of four-seam fastballs. If he's not locating that pitch he may be vulnerable, even from the left side.