Angels starter Jason Vargas is Bruce Chen without the mystique.
A soft-tossing lefty whose pitches seem to waft over the plate lazily from his three-quarters delivery, who boasts neither tricky stuff nor truly admirable control, whose success seems to be based on the pitcher’s park surroundings he’s kept himself in throughout his career. He looks like someone your favorite team–especially one stacked with right-handed power–should crush, but he manages to subvert these expectations often enough to have a career.
Not against the White Sox, though. Against the White Sox, Jason Vargas has been responsible for some of my favorite memories and probably some of the best memories that you, the reader, hold dear as well. For example, here’s my personal favorite Dayan Viciedo home run:
A bullet to dead-center field in Safeco before they moved the fences in, and from best I can tell it never got more than 20 feet in the air. Being party to such a feat might make you question some things. Vargas, on the other hand, would go on to throw a grand slam to Tyler Flowers in this game.
Vargas has only appeared in six games against the White Sox, and only started in five. It’s been scant appearances against teams filled with different players at different points in the progression of their career. The 7.85 ERA and .933 OPS against he has when facing the White Sox is not predictive, just a reminder that he has made White Sox fans very, very happy.
Even in moments of despair, like a 5-1 deficit to the 2010 Seattle Mariners…
…Vargas has heroically stepped in and made things right for the White Sox
Mostly, there’s excitement for the idea of Dayan Viciedo, a career lefty-masher who is .434/.474/.563 in limited plate appearances against southpaws this season, to have at it. Alex Rios has been more or less omnipotent against everyone all year long, which isn’t specific to Vargas, but always worth mentioning. Jeff Keppinger was supposed to be good against lefties when he signed his contract, but is not in the position to makes boasts at the moment. Adam Dunn is trying to play through back spasms. Standard-issue concerns about Dunn’s injury self-assessment apply.
1. Alejandro De Aza – CF
2. Alexei Ramirez – SS
3. Alex Rios – RF
4. Adam Dunn – DH
5. Paul Konerko – 1B
6. Conor Gillaspie – 3B
7. Dayan Viciedo – LF
8. Jeff Keppinger – 2B
9. Tyler Flowers – C
Jake Peavy, SP
While you were gawking at Chris Sale, Jake Peavy has enjoyed consistent performance, functional run support and a strikeout rate that rivals his career peak throughout 2013. In his seven starts this season, Peavy has not once struck out less than six batters and only once failed to deliver a quality outing. Sale and his preening, attention-seeking hyper-dominance of late has really dragged attention away from the Jake Peavy show of two-seamers, cutters, sinkers and sliders, which has been approaching ace-level when healthy.
Jason Vargas, SP
This is the exact same lineup the Angels sent out yesterday. That lineup scored 12 runs. There’s no faulting Mike Scioscia’s thinking here, but he should remember that time passes through our fingers like grains of sand, and should he try to fortify his house from the perilous winds of change, he will end in a prison of his own making.
Where to Watch: CSN
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