Jason Vargas will miss the next 3-4 weeks after having an emergency appendectomy, according to reports by FoxSports Midwest reporter Joel Goldberg during Wednesday’s telecast of the Kansas City Royals game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Vargas was scheduled to pitch the final game before the All-Star break Sunday, but will now need to be replaced. If his spot in the rotation is slotted 5th coming out to the break, he would be slated to start on July 22nd at home against Chicago, then July 27th in Cleveland.
After the game on the 27th, the Royals have an off day, then three games in Minnesota, then another off day. He could, in theory, be ready to pitch in the weekend series against Oakland in the first few days of August. That would be in the 3-4 week range.
Best case scenario has him missing 3 or 4 starts. If it takes longer, it could 5 or 6 starts – hopefully no more than that. Regardless, this is not a good thing for a team battling to stay alive in the AL Central, or for a team challenging for a wild card spot.
Jason Vargas has been the Kansas City Royals’ most consistent pitcher, going 8-4 with a 3.31 ERA and a 1.232 WHIP. He has 19 starts and 125 innings. He is going to be hard to replace.
So, who is going to replace him in the lineup? At least for his next scheduled start on Sunday, it will probably be Bruce Chen. If Chen performs well, it will probably be Chen for all of the missed starts.
If Chen falters, the Royals just signed veteran lefty Joe Saunders and assigned him to AAA. Saunders could step in for some spot starts as well. Saunders is not the ideal choice but he is a veteran who won’t get rattled in pressure situations as the Royals compete for a playoff spot. The problem is, he isn’t very good.
Saunders started 8 games for Texas earlier in the year and went 0-5 with 6.13 ERA and a WHIP of 2.o67. From those numbers, it does not appear Saunders has much left at the age of 33.
It would be best for the Royals if Chen could step in and pitch well. It was about this time a year ago that Chen stepped into the rotation and was a stalwart, starting 15 games with a 3.31 ERA.
In more disturbing news, also reported by Goldberg on the air last night, Alex Gordon will have an MRI on his wrist he injured with his silly hands first slides. The Royals anemic offense can ill afford to lose one of their relatively consistent performers.
Kansas City has no one to replace Gordon. Raul Ibanez is on his last legs in the field, and he doesn’t appear to have anything left at the plate. Nori Aoki will be back soon, so an outfield of Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, and Aoki will be fine defensively, but it won’t help an already punchless offense.
Gordon ruled not out just yet. He will probably miss some, if not all, of the games this weekend against Detroit, and he may miss the All-Star game, but if he just needs rest through the break, the Royals can deal with that short term.
If it is more serious, and Gordon has to miss extended time, the Royals are in trouble. We will just have to wait and see.