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(For you Generation Z'ers reading, Elvis Presley feared that the mob would rush the stage after his first six encores.  So he would have the arena lights suddenly turned off, and some guy would turn the lights back on and announce, "Please remain calm.  Elvis has left the building."  There, now you get the announcer shtick when somebody hits a HR.)

Once again, the Mariners' number five starter has kneed a Quinton "Rampage" Jackson-sized opponent --- > in the man region.  Behind Jason Vargas, the Mariners in 2011 have beaten:

That's what the M's #5 starter has accomplished, in the first half of the year. 

You know how Dodger Blues had a Random Dodger, somebody who went 1-for-9 in 1982? ... maybe SSI should put up a Random Mariner #5 SP. 

Here's a start:  Frank Wills, 1985.  He was 5-11, 6.00, more BB's than K's.  Moe, Lonnie, does it seem likely to you that Frank Wills was going to beat Jered Weaver and Cole Hamels?  My memory's a little hazy.


=== Random Acts of Pitching Kindness ===

The first pitch of the game was a changeup, low, ball one.  I don't recall ever, in my life, seeing a game start with a changeup.

Read that as a fascinating comment on ---> what?

On the huge dive-and-fade, and the arm action, that Vargas gets on his change.  His change had a whopping 1.83 run value last year, and has a 2.07 run value this year.  Them's the big leagues.

Vargas' change is one of the best offspeed pitches in baseball, and he has no need whatsoever to set it up with a fastball.  He can just drop into the DMZ as a self-contained Meal Ready to Eat. 

He has thrown the change an enormous 28% and 29% of the time the last two years, and they can't hit it with a paddle.  That change makes Jason Vargas .... a legit trade commodity.  GM's can read Fangraphs, kiddies.


The RH hitters arm-swing and miss at Vargas' 88 fastball as though it were 93.  Somebody want to explain that to me?  Is it the sidearm angle?  Is it simple deception?

Is it their reaction to the changeup?

Honestly don't get the difficulty that batters have, reading the fastball out of Vargas' release point.  It's like there's a floodlight in the background.


Vargas' strikeout rate remains at 5.8, comfortably above the Shandler 5.6 line which separates finesse stars from finesse innings eaters.  I doubt that GM's all read BaseballHQ and doubt that they buy the 5.6 Line, but you do.  


Vargas seemed to enjoy pitching against Cole-Hamels-On-A-Hot-Roll.  And he seemed to enjoy beating Cole-Hamels-On-A-Hot-Roll.  The dude has moxie.  This moment brought to you by Jack Zduriencik, field scout.


Jason Vargas is not, repeat not, a Safeco illusion.  He's one of the game's really fine finesse southpaws.  He just doesn't look like it facially.  Now, if Jason Vargas looked like Kenny Rogers, he'd lead SportsCenter more than once a year.

Has Vargas ever been on a SportsCenter lead-in, do you think?






John Tudor, Jimmy Key, Charlie Leibrandt and Jamie Moyer.  They all had a little different style but you could always tell in the first inning if they were on or not.  After the first inning in game 4 of the 85 world series Sparky Anderson, who was doing the color analyzing on TV said that Tudor was going to throw a shut out with the way the first inning went.  And he was right.
Jimmy Key was the only one of the pitchers listed above who had a great career from the get go.  The other three had to morph into the polished change of speed specialist.  Tudor with Boston was a high fastball pitcher.  Moyer tried it as a fastball pitcher as well for a long time.  Leibrandt had more success as his career went on as he mastered his changeup.
The other point of comparison is the composure that all of these pitchers have.  You can't be a successful changeup artist without ice water in your very soul.  Orel Hersheiser said that it was easier to pitch in the playoffs because the hitters are so keyed up that they get themeselves out (don't see Ackley doing this).  All of these lefthanded pitchers have had a great deal of success in the playoffs because they are so calm, cool and collected.  
Vargas is 28 or so and is coming into his own.  He still has an inning that can be scary but his composure is such that he can rebound.  These types of pitchers get better with age.  Now here's to Danny Hultzen being this type of pitcher only with a 94 mile an hour fastball.


Not sure *why* I can't think of Vargas as comparable to Tudor, Key, etc.  
To me those guys all seemed like legit Opening Day starters.  To me Vargas seems like a #4. There's probably no objective reason why.
Well, looking at Tudor here real quick, I notice that his ERA+ was 125 when he retired, and that he went 21-8, 1.93 in 1985... perhaps Vargas hasn't had his big year...
Your remark about 1st-inning assessment is awesome.  To Bill James, that was one of the reasons for thinking about Pitcher Families, to be able to find generalizations just like that one.
Possibly it's the physical appearance.  James used to say that all these finesse LHP's had to have extreme grace and balance.  Vargas hardly gives that impression, though his command is superb.

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