Mariners Editorials: My Favorite Unsung M’s Heroes

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Jun 21, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Jason Vargas (51) delivers a pitch against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Number 4: Jason Vargas

Jason Vargas is a relatively soft-tossing lefty pitcher. He now pitches for the Kansas City Royals. Before that he pitched for the dreaded Angels, and before that, he spent four glorious seasons with the Mariners. He was acquired in the first trade of Jack Z’s tenure. The M’s sent J.J. Putz to the Mets and Luis Valbuena to the Indians, and in return got Vargas, Aaron Heilman, and Endy Chavez (Part 1) from the Mets. And then they got Guti from the Indians. It was the kind of move that made you love Jack Z initially.

Like Mike Montgomery after him, and Jamie Moyer before him, Vargas possessed the perfect stuff for Safeco Field. He threw strikes. He lived low. He had a good changeup. He was the perfect Safeco Field lefty.

He only went 36-42 with the Mariners, his best year being 2012 when he went 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA. He also won nine games in 2010 and 11 in 2011. Aside from being the perfect Safeco Field pitcher, what else do I remember about Jason Vargas? The Mariners didn’t hit for him. They don’t hit for a lot of people, but they really didn’t for Vargas.

In 2012 alone, the Mariners scored three runs or less in 16 of his 33 starts. In 2011? It was even worse. The M’s scored three runs or less in 19 of his 32 starts.

It’s hard not to like a guy who pitches to a 4.09 ERA and gets no run support. He always kept the Mariners in the game. He located his fastball well, had a good change, and developed a cutter. He was a few notches below Felix, and was in the same realm as Doug Fister. And therefore, I liked him a lot.

Vargas injured his arm again last night with the Royals, and will be out for the remainder of the season with a torn UCL.

Next: Number 3: Tino Martinez