Results tagged ‘ Jason Vargas ’
Joe Blanton perpetually gets hit around and Tommy Hanson continues to be away from the team because of a family issue, but the other rotation newcomer, Jason Vargas, has pretty much provided what the Angels would’ve expected lately.
On Tuesday night, he bounced back from a dud against the Astros, limiting a pretty dangerous Royals lineup to five hits and one walk while striking out seven batters in seven-plus innings of two-run ball. Vargas, acquired in exchange for Kendrys Morales in December, hasn’t allowed a first-inning run in either of his first eight starts, is 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA at home and, most importantly, has pitched seven or more innings in four of his last five outings.
“I try to go out there every time and keep the team in the ballgame, be consistent out there and try to execute,” Vargas said.
His ERA, at 6.75 after his April 16 start, is now at 4.03. He’s responsible for both of the Angels’ complete games (though one was eight innings of a loss on the road). And though he began the season in the fourth spot of the rotation, he’s clearly the Angels’ third-best starter (perhaps even second, depending on how you feel about C.J. Wilson).
“If you look at Jason, you look at his track record, this guy pitches deep into games,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Vargas, who posted a 3.96 ERA and compiled 611 innings his previous three years in Seattle. “It’s one thing saying ‘gives innings,’ but this guy gives you good innings and that’s what’s important to us is these guys getting into the seventh, possibly the eighth, giving those good innings and giving our offense a chance to do what it did tonight.”
The Angels can’t get swept by the Astros, can they? We shall see …
SP: LH Jason Vargas (1-3, 3.72 ERA)
SP: RH Lucas Harrell (3-3, 5.03 ERA)
- Jered Weaver threw his first bullpen today (28 pitches) and felt really good. Mike Scioscia said he’ll need about four more, thrown with one day in between if Weaver continues to feel good, before venturing out on a rehab assignment.
- Ryan Madson threw 20 pitches in an intrasquad game in Arizona today and, as planned, will pitch there again on Saturday.
- If the Angels make the playoffs this year, they’ll become only the fourth team in history to do it despite starting off the season 11-22. Per Elias, the only other teams to start a season 11-22 or worse and play in the postseason were the 1914 Braves, the 1974 Pirates and the 1981 Royals. To be fair, though, there was no second wild card — or even first wild card — back then.
- The last time the Angels were 11 games below .500: May 22, 2006. They haven’t been 9 1/2 games back this early in a season since 2002 — when they were 9 1/2 games back on April 22, 10 1/2 games back on April 23 and (lo and behold!) World Series champs on Oct. 27.
- Eleven of the Angels’ 22 losses have come by two runs or less.
SP: RH Miguel Gonzalez (2-1, 4.60 ERA)
SP: LH Jason Vargas (0-3, 4.85)
- As you might have noticed, Callaspo was activated off the disabled prior to Friday’s game. But going down was Andrew Romine, not Luis Jimenez. Mike Scioscia likes having a power right-handed bat off the bench like Jimenez — it’s essentially the role Bill Hall was going to play, before he got hurt in Spring Training — and he feels Brendan Harris can be used as a utility infielder. A big question with this decision, however, is Harris’ defense. It’s not his strong suit. Offense is. Romine was a much more capable defender. And maybe Jimenez would’ve benefited from some more at-bats in the Minors to polish up his approach, which has led to a lot of strikeouts at this level.
- In tune with his new role, Jimenez was getting some work in left field pregame. Scioscia said right now he’s only comfortable using Jimenez there in an “emergency” situation, but perhaps that can change if he gets better at it.
- Garrett Richards is going back to the bullpen, with Jerome Williams taking his spot in the rotation on Sunday. The move makes sense on a couple of fronts. First and foremost, the Angels need a relief pitcher to bridge the gap to the later innings, and Richards can do that in what he said is “a primary role” in the back end. Williams has struggled as a starting pitcher in recent outings, but he’s been really good in long relief lately.
- Sean Burnett said today that he’s going to fly to Florida to see Dr. James Andrews on Monday morning. After that, he’ll fly to Houston to rejoin the team on their two-city trip. The lefty reliever, out since April 27 with left forearm irritation, didn’t sound very concerned. But it’s always frightening when pitchers see Dr. Andrews, so it’s definitely something worth monitoring.
- It looks like Scott Downs (pain in his right side) will avoid the DL. At least for now. He probably won’t be available Friday, but Scioscia is going to have him go through his normal pregame nonetheless.
- Mark Lowe (left neck strain) will pitch two innings for Class A Inland Empire on Sunday. He’s eligible to be activated that day, so that may be Lowe’s final outing before rejoining the team.
- Shortstop Tommy Field suffered a broken finger shortly after he was sent down on April 23. He’s on the 7-day Minor League DL and could miss a month.
SP: RH Alexi Ogando (2-1, 3.32 ERA)
SP: LH Jason Vargas (0-2, 6.75 ERA)
- Yet another new face has graced the Angels’ bullpen. On Tuesday, lefty Nick Maronde was called up from Double-A Arkansas, with shortstop Tommy Field getting optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake and the Angels going with a three-man bench. The reason? Lefty Sean Burnett is currently sidelined with some tightness in his forearm, which he chalks up as part of the recovery from the removal of bone spurs in his elbow. It’s a day-to-day situation, but the Angels need as many healthy arms as possible in the ‘pen. That’s five new faces in two weeks (Maronde, Michael Roth, Dane De La Rosa, Michael Kohn and David Carpenter). The Angels now have four lefty relievers. There were times when Mike Scioscia didn’t have any.
- Erick Aybar will go with the team to Seattle, but won’t be activated off the disabled list on Thursday, as he said he was shooting for on Monday. Mike Scioscia wants Aybar to get a couple days in extended Spring Training in order to work on his prep step, since the left heel could be sensitive to playing shortstop.
- Jerome Williams still looks likely to make the start on Wednesday against the Rangers, but it isn’t official. Scioscia is waiting until postgame, just in case he has to use them. Lifetime against Texas, Williams has a 7.34 ERA. “I’m not worried about their lineup,” he said. “I’m worried about what I’m doing out there.”
- Alberto Callaspo (right calf strain) is “still not quite where you’d want him to be,” Scioscia said, but added that “there’s a probability he’ll be ready over the weekend.” Callaspo is eligible to come off the DL on Saturday.
What can fix the Angels???? — @VivaJRC
I hate for the first QOTD of the season to come under such tumultuous times, but, well, this is probably as good a time as any.
The answer to that question is very simple: The starters need to be better. They have a Major League-worst 6.07 ERA and have pitched into the seventh inning only once all season, putting the offense behind early on an almost-nightly basis and gutting a bullpen that’s already thin.
The solution? It has to come in-house, at least for now. The Angels have some payroll flexibility after trading Vernon Wells, but teams don’t make trades in April — not for big-name players, anyway. It’s too early. Newcomers Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton may not boast the resumes of, say, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, but they have reputations for pitching deep into games, and they’re simply not doing that. The three of them are a combined 1-6 with a 7.36 ERA in 40 1/3 innings so far. They simply have to be better.
I’ve been getting a lot of the predictable, fire-and-brimstone tweets and e-mails recently — FIRE BUTCHER!!! FIRE SCIOSCIA!!! — and if this team continues to underachieve, there’s no telling what Arte Moreno will do.
But would that actually solve anything right now?
Another nice day at Target Field. It isn’t expected to be tomorrow, with 100 percent chance of rain — that’s right, 100 percent! — at night. But hey, one day at a time, right? …
SP: LH Jason Vargas (0-1, 4.76 ERA)
SP: RH Mike Pelfrey (1-1, 7.36 ERA)
- Big step for Ryan Madson today, who threw his third bullpen session with one day in between for the third time and said it’s the “closest I’ve felt to normal.” He’ll face hitters for the first time on Friday, then should go out on a rehab assignment shortly thereafter. He doesn’t see a reason why he wouldn’t be activated off the DL before the end of April. This is the shot in the arm the Angels’ bullpen badly needs.
- Upon being activated, Mike Scioscia said he’d probably ease Madson in for a few outings, before potentially making him the closer. Madson doesn’t care either way. “Ernie [Frieri] is throwing the ball really well,” he said.
- Pelfrey, 29, had Tommy John surgery on May 1, basically three weeks after Madson, and is making his third start of the season. Surgery is always a mixed bag, though.
- Kevin Jepsen‘s MRI on Monday came back normal, but he’s undergoing some follow-ups on Tuesday.
- Alberto Callaspo didn’t end up fielding grounders on Monday, but he’s doing so on Tuesday.
Come Monday, Jered Weaver will be making his fourth straight Opening Day start, Josh Hamilton‘s reunion tour will begin and the Angels will (once again) try to cash in on the grand expectations they carry into the season.
Before that happens, here’s a station-to-station look at where they stand heading into what should be a very fun 2013 …
Position players: I don’t see a way this team won’t be among the top three in runs scored in the American League this season. From mid-May to the end of the season last year, when Mike Trout arrived in more ways than one and Albert Pujols remembered he’s Albert Freakin’ Pujols, the Angels led the Majors in runs per game. And that was without Hamilton, mind you. The Angels have three dynamic speed guys (Peter Bourjos-Trout-Erick Aybar) and three lethal power hitters (Pujols-Hamilton-Mark Trumbo) all conveniently lining up together. The rest of the guys (Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Iannetta) don’t need to be anything more than themselves for the Angels to be an offensive juggernaut. Defensively, Trout-Bourjos-Hamilton could be the best defensive outfield in baseball (which tailors perfectly to their flyball-heavy pitching staff) and the infield is solid at every position.
Starters: Angels starters got their necessary work this spring, but just barely. Spring Training may not teach us much, but it certainly didn’t quell any apprehensions about this rotation. Everyone except the no-walks Joe Blanton struggled at some point, with Weaver, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson all bringing temporary concerns that they wouldn’t have enough stamina heading into the regular season. But they do, and most importantly, they’re all healthy. Are they good enough to match one of the best offenses in baseball? No. Will they be adequate enough to eat innings (so the ‘pen doesn’t get worn out) and keep the Angels in games (with the lineup taking care of the rest)? That’s the plan. The key: C.J. Wilson, the $77.5 million No. 2 starter who should be a lot better than his 2012 second half.
Relievers: The Angels are deeper here, with or without Ryan Madson (who is still on track to return in late April or early May, barring another setback). They’ve added arguably the best free-agent lefty available in Sean Burnett, will have a full season of Ernesto Frieri, are banking on Kevin Jepsen‘s last three months being no fluke and, along with Scott Downs, seemingly have four formidable options to protect leads late in games. There’s also the high-upside Garrett Richards, coming off a great spring, the hard-throwing Mark Lowe, who the Angels have targeted since November, and the veteran Jerome Williams. Many will point to last year’s 22 blown saves as the biggest reason the Angels ultimately missed the playoffs, and this year, they’re better in the ‘pen. But that’s on paper. Relievers are a very unpredictable species.
Reserves: If all their everyday players stay healthy, this won’t be much of a factor, particularly in the AL. Chances are, though, injuries will happen. And given that, the Angels took a step back with regards to their bench (though if you’re going to pick one area to downgrade, this would be it). Without Vernon Wells, they don’t have any real power threat in reserve — besides Hank Conger, but he’s the backup catcher — and are pretty darn young. Andrew Romine takes over for the seasoned Maicer Izturis and Conger, awfully talented but coming off a spring soured by throwing woes, has spent most of the last three years in Triple-A. Contact-hitting lefty outfielder J.B. Shuck is the third player on this bench making his first Opening Day roster. The last reserve, veteran infielder Brendan Harris, hasn’t been in the big leagues since 2010.
Depth: The Angels’ farm system is dead last in all of baseball, according to ESPN and Baseball America. But those in the organization will tell you that mostly has to do with pitching; their position-player talent is just fine. Furthermore, the Angels’ front office is confident they’ve built more depth in the upper levels to serve as insurance in 2013. The Triple-A roster has several players with Major League experience, such as Luis Rodriguez, Tommy Field, Scott Cousins, Trent Oeltjen, Chris Snyder (possibly), John Hester, Luke Carlin, Mitch Stetter and Fernando Cabrera. But with Richards’ length shortened in the ‘pen, and Williams’ workload unpredictable as a swing man, where do the Angels turn if something happens to one of their starters? Barry Enright, Billy Buckner, Matt Shoemaker and the young A.J. Schugel figure to make up the Salt Lake Bees’ rotation.
Financials: The Angels’ payroll sits under $150 million, thanks to the Yankees taking on $11.5 million of Wells’ 2013 salary in the recent trade. The deal also bought them some luxury tax flexibility. Prior to the deal, the Angels’ Competitive Balance Tax payroll — which takes into account the average annual value of all 40-man roster salaries, plus benefits and performance bonuses at the end of the season — was $178 million, the threshold at which first-time offenders are taxed 17.5 percent by Major League Baseball. Now, it’s about $172M, giving them some flexibility to take on salary in an in-season trade. Last year, after acquiring Zack Greinke, their CBT payroll was at $178 million, which affected their pursuit of some necessary relief-pitching help.
Underlying theme: Expectations can do some funny things, and it’ll be interesting to see how the magnitude of it all will play into how the Angels go about — and react to — their second year under the microscope. Will it affect them out of the gate? Will it bring turmoil in the clubhouse, especially now that Torii Hunter is gone? Can it cause more tension between Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia, who have their philosophical differences and were at odds at times last season? And what will it lead Arte Moreno to do if they miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season?
In addition to Trumbo at DH, how much time do you think he will get a first base and right field, giving Pujols and Hamilton a day to rest their legs? (Stephen H., San Luis Obispo)
Plenty. And if I had to pin a number on it, I’d say there’s a very good chance — even if everyone stays healthy — that Trumbo spends about half his time playing the field. If he’s hitting, he’ll be in the lineup for all the Angels’ Interleague games. For a good chunk of April, with Pujols in the early stages of his return from offseason knee surgery, he figures to play plenty of first base. With Wells gone, he’s also the fourth outfielder. And fundamentally, with so much money tied to Hamilton and Pujols long-term, Scioscia will get them off their feet as often as necessary now that he has a revolving door at DH (that wasn’t very feasible with Kendrys Morales there last year).
Do you see the day when the Angels move Trout down in the batting order and put Bourjos, if he can cut it, in the leadoff spot? (Albert H., Los Angeles)
I do. Scioscia continues to say Trout profiles better in the middle of the order, the reason being that you want your best hitter to be in as many RBI situations as possible. The makeup of the Angels’ lineup right now — with Pujols, Hamilton and Trumbo in the middle of the order, and no clear solution in the leadoff spot just yet — means Trout is the best fit to bat first. You can argue that the Angels’ everyday lineup doesn’t figure to change much any time soon, with almost everyone in the books long term. But Trout is the kind of player you construct a lineup around, and his bat figures to eventually become too potent to not put in the 3 spot.
Is this the year the Angels finally get back to the playoffs and make a deep run? (Samuel M., Tempe, Ariz.)
Who knows. I do think that, on paper, they are the best team in the AL West and should win the division. Once you get in the playoffs, it’s a crapshoot. The sample size is too small. But 162 games is not a small sample size, and if the Angels stay healthy, there is no excuse for not taking the division crown. The Rangers’ lineup took a step back, replacing Hamilton with Lance Berkman, and the pitching staff won’t have Neftali Feliz, Colby Lewis or Joakim Soria to start the season. The A’s are deep, but will need a lot of guys to over-perform again. It’s nice to see the Mariners spending money, but they still have holes and concerns all over the place. And the Astros are a last-place team. But who am I kidding — predicting a baseball season is a foolish act.
Now, at last, we can see how it all plays out on the field.
Jered Weaver gave up eight runs in two innings against the A’s in his last Cactus League start — then threw in an intrasquad game five days later — Tommy Hanson has an 8.25 ERA in 12 innings, Jason Vargas has given up at least four runs on eight hits two of his last three times out, long reliever Jerome Williams was charged with seven runs on 11 hits in 1 1/3 innings against the Rangers on Thursday and, on Friday, C.J. Wilson gave up seven runs in a third inning he didn’t finish. That leaves Joe Blanton (3.86 ERA in seven frames) as the most impressive starter so far.
The Angels’ starting-pitcher ERA this spring: 8.21, dead last in the Majors. The A’s are 29th, at 6.85.
“I sure hope that as we get to the latter stages of our work in Arizona and into the Freeway Series, we’ll see some guys come alive and repeat some pitches,” Mike Scioscia said.
Asked how much more important these last 10 days are for the starters, the Angels’ skipper added: “To be honest with you, if we could get them at least lengthened out and get them deep into games, you’re not going to read as much from your performance as you are getting into their length. … I think just making pitches. That’s how we’re trying to evaluate these guys.”
Some notes from today …
We know the Angels can score runs, at least. One day after notching a four-homer, six-run fourth inning, they pounded out seven runs against James Shields in the first two innings.
Mike Trout hit two doubles to center field, scored two runs and was robbed of a hit. Albert Pujols scored from first base on an opposite-field triple. Josh Hamilton hit an opposite-field triple. Vernon Wells went 2-for-3, putting his spring batting average at .394. Mark Trumbo went 2-for-2 with a couple of RBIs. Alberto Callaspo had two hits and has his average at .317.
Sean Burnett pitched a clean fifth inning, one outing after giving up three runs and recording one out. Kevin Jepsen, out since March 9 with a triceps injury, gave up a run in an inning during a Minor League game.
Wilson gave up eight runs (six earned) on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings in what was his first dud of the spring. One of those runs came on a home run by Jeff Francoeur that’s still orbiting the solar system. First, it cleared the 30-foot-tall batting eye that sits behind the center field fence, which is already 420 feet from home plate.
Fernando Cabrera gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in his first outing since returning from the World Baseball Classic.
Howie Kendrick went 0-for-3, ending his 16-game spring hitting streak — it’s 21 if you go back to last spring — and putting his batting average at .490.
Best play (that I saw)
In the bottom of the fifth, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas dove full extension to his left to snare a bullet off the bat of Trout.
Wilson, on Frenchy’s home run: “That was the furthest home run I’ve given up in a couple years. … It was wind-aided, though, I will say that.”
Albert Pujols‘ surgically right knee has progressed to the point where he’s playing first base with no problems — though he wasn’t tested in his five-inning Tuesday debut — but now he’s dealing with something else.
“What’s giving him a little more trouble now is his heel, his foot,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But he’s fine out there.”
Pujols has plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He dealt with it a little bit in 2004, ’05 and ’06 and didn’t miss any games, and the plan is for him to play Wednesday and Thursday (with at least one of those starts coming at first base).
Still, this is the kind of thing that can linger, so it’s worth monitoring.
Some more notes as the Angels moved to 5-13-4 this spring …
Mike Trout went 1-for-3, driving in a run and running a long way to make a nice catch in the center field warning track.
David Carpenter, looking like a favorite for the final bullpen spot, got back-to-back outs in the sixth and has had a scoreless outing in eight of his nine appearances.
Howie Kendrick went 1-for-3 and has hit safely in all 14 of his Spring Training games, putting his batting average at .512.
Jason Vargas was tagged for five runs on eight hits (two of them homers) in 5 1/3 innings, putting his Cactus League ERA at 6.00.
Chad Cordero gave up a home run in two-thirds of an inning. Great story, but he’s now given up 12 runs in 4 2/3 innings and will probably be reassigned to Minor League camp pretty soon.
Mark Trumbo went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and is 9-for-42 this spring, with nine strikeouts and two walks.
Best play (that I saw)
Brewers center fielder Logan Schafer robbed Pujols of a potential homer to end the third inning, flipping the ball from his glove to his bare hand on the way down.
Pujols, on his debut: “I could’ve played nine innings right now. But playing nine innings right now is being selfish. I don’t need to play nine innings right now, when there’s no need. So, take the rest and play smart when you can, because as soon as the season starts, my goal is to play over 155 games.”
Albert Pujols expects to make his first start at first base on Tuesday, which comes after an off day and will see the Angels play the Brewers in Maryvale, Ariz.
The Angels won’t utilize the designated hitter that day, playing under National League rules so their starting pitcher (Jason Vargas) can hit for the first time this spring. Playing first base would be Pujols’ only chance to get in the lineup, and the Angels slugger said on Sunday morning that his surgically repaired right knee feels good enough to allow him to do that in a game.
Pujols has been taking part in defensive drills for a while now, methodically increasing the intensity while continuing to run the bases in workouts. Over his last three starts, Pujols – batting .353 (6-for-17) with a couple of homers and four RBIs in six Cactus League games — hasn’t needed a “courtesy runner” while starting at first base. Tuesday is 13 days before the April 1 opener in Cincinnati — under NL rules, of course.
Pujols is making his seventh start at DH on Sunday against the Padres and may come by the Angels facility on Monday to work out. And though Tuesday’s return to first base isn’t set in stone, he feels good about those prospects right now.