Player Profile: Claudio Vargas

13 03 2008

The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Claudio Vargas in the trade with the Diamondbacks that sent LHP Doug Davis to Arizona for C Johnny Estrada. He’s mainly been a end of the rotation type of pitcher, and he looks to rebound on less-than-stellar numbers from last season.

’08 Stat Line

11-6 W-L, 5.09 ERA, 134.3 IP, 54 BB, 107 K


Claudio’s main strength last season seemed to be his ability to get out of seemingly impossible situations completely unscathed. I cannot even count the amount of times that Claudio loaded the bases with less than two outs and gave up zero runs in the beginning of the year. He is very calm and collected on the mound and does not let one or two hits against him get him out of his rhythm. In fact, he seems to bear down more when put in a tough situation.

As many people point out, he simply wins. He may have had a 5.09 ERA last season, but he still posted a winning record for Milwaukee. He has a very nasty slider that is his out pitch. When he is able to locate that down in the zone, he can really put together some good innings for the Crew. You can look at his peripheral stats all you want, but the fact remains that he still put together a winning record.


Unfortunately, the list of strengths of Claudio is fairly short. As I said above, you can look at the peripheral stats all you want, but he’s still a winner. You can also take a different approach to look at his stats. You can see his record as a fluke because he received the highest run support of any Brewers starter last season. The fact remains that his WHIP was obnoxiously high last season (1.541). He lets too many baserunners get on base, and his run total suffers because of it. He mainly relies on a fastball and a sinker to get ahead of the count, and he cannot always locate his pitches very well. Big league hitters do not miss mistakes very often.

Speaking of control issues, Claudio’s walk rate is quite high for a pitcher with his style. Unlike Yovani Gallardo, he does not strike out tons of people to make up for his walk rate. Claudio puts a lot of pressure on his defense by giving away unnecessary free trips to first base, and the team is playing from behind very early in the inning. His command severely needs to improve for him to be successful this season, and it stems from his refusal to use his slider early in the count. He needs to establish his slider earlier in the count to keep batters off-balance.

The starting pitcher’s inability to pitch deeper into games was a main reason why the bullpen caved in down the stretch. Claudio Vargas was a perfect example of that tendency all season. In his 23 games started last season, he only pitched past the sixth inning twice. Twice! That may seem like a big deal, but when the bullpen needs to use three pitchers every five days throughout the entire season, it can get taxing. Claudio needs to keep his pitch count down in the early innings. That is probably the biggest reason why Brewers fans got tired of him late in the season. I personally was sick of seeing him throw 100 pitches in five innings. And it happened every 5 days.


Claudio has three pitches: a fastball, a sinker, and a slider.  His fastball generally sits in the 88-90 mph range, and his sinker is a few ticks below that.  His fastball has a good amount of movement to it, but he does not control it very well early in the count.  He likes to work high in the zone with his fastball, which can be very dangerous in Miller Park.  His slider is by far his best pitch.  It hovers in the 80-82 mph range, and it has a very late, sharp break to it.  He does not throw it nearly enough, however, and he has control issues with that pitch as well.  If he can develop that a little more, he could become a much better pitcher.


ZiPS – 8-11 W-L, 4.99 ERA, 146 IP, 57 BB, 113 K
The Hardball Times – 7-9 W-L, 5.05 ERA, 142 IP, 53 BB, 106 K

These projections are pretty right on in my opinion.  They collectively think that Claudio will struggle again this season.  I do not expect Claudio to make the starting rotation to start the season, even though he has pitched well this spring.  I expect his ERA to drop a bit, but that is not saying much as it was 5.00+ to begin with.  His slow-motion routine and his tendency to let up tons of baserunners will annoy Brewers fans enough anyway.  I would not be surprised to see Claudio start the season in the bullpen, if he is not traded.  Either way, he is not one of the top five starting pitchers on the team.  In fact, I expect him to be the worst in ’08.

Projected Stat Line: 8-10 W-L, 4.94 ERA, 140 IP, 58 BB, 105 K
Projected Season Rating (out of 10): 6.5



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: