With more players being added to the Disabled List everyday, opportunities present themselves to rookies at the Major League level. Tonight Cesar Vargas looks to be the recipient of unfortunate injuries as he makes his Major League debut against the St. Louis Cardinals at Petco Park. He has only pitched three games above the Double A level but past experience might give him more confidence. Not to mention the 6’2″, 220 lbs right does have a track record of success in the minor leagues.
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Though just 24 years old, Vargas struck out 22% of hitters faced in AA last season and 30% of A ball hitters the year before, stats courtesy of a pre-season piece written by our very own Tim Richer. His fastball doesn’t top 90 MPH much but he does have a good cutter and change-up to go along with his fastball. The question will be whether he will able to calm his nerves for his Petco Park debut against a team like the Cardinals who can take a lot of pitches and capitalize when they get good ones to hit. He is on the 40 man roster so is the easiest move to make from a transaction standpoint.
Opposing Vargas will be Michael Wacha, just 24 himself but already with 61 career MLB starts under his belt after coming up in 2013. Last year was his first full workload in the majors and he went 17-7 with a 3.38 ERA. He hasn’t shown signs of slowing down, as in his first three starts this year he’s gone 1-0 with a 2.76 ERA and 15 strike-outs.
Vargas was originally signed by the Yankees and started his professional career at 17 in their organization. He had just made it up last year to AAA in their organization before coming over to the Padres this off-season. He had made two starts for the Padres San Antonio Missions where he had struck out 14 in just under 13 innings and only walked one. He had also allowed just 5 hits and 2 runs. Double A this is not, but remember the Padres brought up Jesse Hahn back in 2014 where in 12 games started went 7-4 with an ERA just over 3. The Padres are hoping to catch a little lightning in a bottle once more as they continue this tough stretch (they have played well) against NL Central contenders.