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Vargas Seeks All-Star Start, Faces M’s

Updated: .July 5, 2017

By Charles Jay

The best pitcher in the American League will be on display on Wednesday night, but you may have never heard of him, that is, if you are a casual fan. Jason Vargas, at age 34, has emerged as a star, and he’ll be called upon by the Kansas City Royals as they take the field against the Seattle Mariners, with game time slated for 10:10 PM ET at Safeco Field. Remember that if you are an America’s Bookie customer, you can avail yourself of two different “Live Betting” options in your sportsbook interface to get in on all the action even after the first pitch is thrown.

It’s not as if Vargas hasn’t had decent seasons before; he logged a 14-11 record for the Seattle Mariners in 2011, with a 1.18 WHIP ratio. But he’s never made an All-Star appearance; never been in the top ten for the Cy Young Award. And he’s done nothing in the way of what he is doing this season, as he is the American League leader in victories with a dozen, as was as the ERA leader (2.22).

His opponent is Ariel Miranda (7-4, 3.82 ERA), who has put forth a lot of credible outings for the M’s this season, with maybe the best coming in his last start, as he threw seven innings of two-hit, shutout baseball at the Los Angeles Angels.

In the baseball odds that have been posted on this game, the Mariners are the favorites:

Seattle Mariners (Miranda) -130
Kansas City Royals (Vargas) +110

Over 9 Runs -115
Under 9 Runs -105

Royals +1.5 Runs -185
Mariners -1.5 Runs +165

Vargas had been the subject of a lot of trade rumors, but the problem is that his Royals, due to a change in fortunes, find themselves over the .500 mark (43-40) and just a game and a half behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. Let’s not forget that this team is only a year removed from a World Series championship, so they aren’t about to wave the white flag and go into “seller’s mode” at this point.

The Mariners are 41-44, but they aren’t out of it by any means; in fact, even though they are well behind the Houston Astros in the AL West (16.5 games, in fact), they are just three games out of the second wild card spot – which is something Kansas City owns a piece of at the moment.

Vargas is ranked third among all players in baseball in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which is a gold standard of sabermetric measurement. That should give you a pretty good idea about what his value is. So is he pitching way over his head? Maybe, but pitchers can do this sometimes; just take a look at what Rich Hill has done. And Vargas figures it would be a “huge honor” to take things even a step further. He has been named to the American League All-Star squad; now it would be really nice if he was the starting pitcher. His battery mate, Salvador Perez, has already been voted into the lineup as the starting catcher, so one would imagine that would have some impact on this year’s game, which takes place in Miami.

We should take note that over their last seven respective starts, Miranda’s average “Game Score” is right behind that of Vargas (58-57). So this is obviously not a cakewalk. But what has made Vargas a different pitcher – indeed, a winner of seven consecutive starts – is the fact that he is able to get ahead of hitters, and knows what to do once he’s there. When he has someone behind 1-2 in the count, for example, they are hitting just .129 against him. He doesn’t overwhelm anyone with his velocity, but his changeup has been sensational.

With his metrics, his ability to keep the ball in the park (only eight homers in 101 innings) and the fact that the Royals have won five of six, we have to take a price with him when we see it. So it’s +110 with Vargas and the Royals, as the Charles Jay / America’s Bookie Challenge continues.

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