There could come a time soon when that multi-team J.J. Putz trade from late 2008 stops being known as the Franklin Gutierrez deal and starts to be referred to as the Jason Vargas swap.
Vargas was one of many returns in that trade and has come a long way from that part-time role as a starter/reliever swingman in the minors and majors. He is having a career season so far and today was recognized as the American League’s Pitcher of the Month for July.
Photo Credit: AP
Vargas in July went 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA in six starts, taking home his first monthly honor. The left-hander wasn’t traded last Tuesday and the Mariners could now look to offer him a multi-year deal rather than go through the arbitration process.
A big change in this season for Vargas occured back in June after he’d been lit up for a bunch of home runs in Arizona. Vargas spent the rest of his between-starts work sessions working on honing the delivery of his change-up in order to improve the arm action on it so it looked more like a fastball coming out of his hand.
He also bettered his ability to locate his fastball and — the next thing you know — hitters had trouble touching him. Never mind his strikeut totals, which are decent. Hitters simply have not been squaring the ball up on Vargas like they had been before.
He’ll never be Randy Johnson, but he doesn’t have to be. He’s on pace for over 230 innings while sporting a 12-7 record and 3.71 ERA, a .237 batting average against and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 2:1.
The M’s will take it.
On a personal note, Vargas also has a wicked sense of humor and a perfect deadpan delivery. Sometimes, I even wonder if he even knows he’s being so funny when he speaks to reporters and drops one-liners.
I remember him even stopping a press session once to apologize to a reporter he’d actually said something to that caused everybody around him to crack up with laughter. But I can’t believe a lot of the stuff is unintentional. He’s just a smart, funny guy.
And he can pitch. Now, he has a plaque that says so.