A lengthy recovery from Tommy John surgery in July 2015 cost Jason 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 gave up four runs -- two earned -- on three hits over two innings in his start against the Mariners on Thursday. Three errors were made behind him, which made a rough outing even worse. Vargas has allowed six earned runs in nine innings this spring, while giving up 12 hits and carrying a 7:6 K:BB (2.00 WHIP). He's positioned to begin the season in the Kansas City rotation, but the Royals are likely to be willing to change his role if he struggles, since Vargas is in the final year of the four-year pact he signed with the club in November of 2013.
Vargas pitched five scoreless frames, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out six Twins in Wednesday's no-decision. Making his third start since debuting in mid-September, the 33-year-old veteran delivered his best effort. Vargas spent 14 months rehabbing from a torn UCL, limiting him to action in just the final weeks of the 2016 regular season. He did not factor in any of his outings while managing a 2.25 ERA and 11 strikeouts over 12 innings. With the playoffs out of sight in Kansas City, Vargas must now embark on another long wait before getting a chance to toe the rubber again.
Vargas went four innings Thursday against the Indians, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts. He threw only 70 pitches, as the Royals are treating him with kid gloves after he missed nearly the entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Vargas may, however, get to go a little deeper when he makes his third and final start of the season next week against the Twins.
Vargas allowed one run on two hits and one walk with striking out one over three innings in a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday. The three inning outing, Vargas's first since undergoing Tommy John surgery 14 months ago, is no surprise as manager Ned Yost indicated before the game that he would throw no more than three frames or 45 pitches. The 32-year-old lefty was a key component of the Royals rotation in 2014 and the first half of 2015, so there might be fantasy potential to extract here if Yost allows him to throw deeper into games.
Vargas (elbow) was activated from the 60-day DL and will start Saturday against the White Sox, Josh Vernier of 610 Sports Radio AM reports. It will mark Vargas' first appearance with the Royals since July 2015, when he suffered a torn UCL that he's spent the last 14 months rehabbing. Vargas' surface results weren't overly encouraging during his six-start rehab assignment, as he produced a 5.85 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 20 innings across stops with three different affiliates, but his 27:1 K:BB ratio suggests he may have been victimized by some bad luck. The Royals are certainly hopeful the left-hander won't show much rust in his return to the big leagues, as the team remains on the periphery of the AL wild-card race and can ill afford many bad outings from their starters the rest of the way.