The Kansas City Royals are preparing for Spring Training and are hoping that Jason Vargas is ready to join their starting rotation for the 2017 season.
Royals fans, guess what time it is! That’s right, Spring Training is just around the corner. Pitchers and Catchers will report to Surprise, Arizona on February 14th. The rest of the team will follow suit on the 17th.
One of the most interesting stories for Kansas City Royals fans to follow this upcoming season is the state of the pitching rotation.
Following the passing of Yordano Ventura, the Royals pitching rotation has undergone several changes in a short period of time. Danny Duffy and Ian Kennedy will deservedly slot in at the top of the rotation with new signee Jason Hammel right behind as the third starter.
Nate Karns, another new Royal, could be set to pitch out of the fifth slot.
Who Will It Be?
That leaves the fourth slot of the rotation left to fill. Fans may wonder who will be left to handle those duties.
It’s acceptable if some fans had forgotten about Jason Vargas when planning their dream rotation for 2017. After all, with the exception of three abbreviated starts and twelve innings at the end of last season, Vargas had been out of commission since suffering a torn UCL in July of 2015.
The reality is that Jason Vargas was a valuable member of the 2014 American League Championship squad in his first season with the Royals. He posted a career best 3.71 ERA with 11 wins and 10 losses as the Royals number three starter.
In 2015, Vargas looked to better his win-loss record from 2014, as he was sporting a 5-2 record as a starter before being ruled out for the season.
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What Should the Royals Expect from Vargas in 2017?
The 2017 season will mark the 34-year-old Vargas’ twelfth season in the majors. Since 2010 when Vargas became a consistent presence in starting rotations, he has posted no worse than a 4.25 ERA with an average in the high threes.
While that’s not Ace material, it will serve the Royals purposes for 2017. It’s especially good to see as you look at the potential for additional run production with the acquisitions of Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Vargas should arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape. The intense physical therapy and rehab following Tommy John surgery has surely gotten Vargas in the shape of his life. Also, he had the opportunity to knock off some of the rust at the end of last season.
This season is a contract year for Vargas as well. At 34, the next major league contract that Vargas signs will likely be his final one. Expect him to follow up on his excellent end to 2016 as he posted a 2.25 ERA and held opponents to a .182 average.
For the Royals to return to their winning ways in 2017, it’s absolutely essential that Jason Vargas return to the starting rotation healthy and ready to resume his career numbers. If Vargas is not at his best, one has to wonder if the Royals can win the American League Central this season.