In six innings of work, Jesús Vargas didn’t allow a run. Through the first five, he didn’t allow a baserunner. In his first start of the year, he was nearly perfect.
“He did a really good job,” Manager Luis Rivera said. “He’s been doing a really good job.”
This was Vargas’ first start of the season for Brooklyn after previously being used in what Rivera called a “piggyback” role. He made five appearances out of the bullpen prior to his first start, going three to five innings in every single one.
“It feels good,” Vargas said through Rivera, who was acting as a translator. “I’m getting the results that I want as a starter, getting my five innings, six innings.”
Vargas, now 23 years old, spent his entire professional career in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization prior to signing with the Mets in December.
“[My] agent and [I], [we] were talking about it, about the Mets and different options, but one of the Latin American coordinators in this organization, he was with the Dodgers, now he’s here,” Vargas said through Rivera. “So that’s one of the things that made [me] sign here because [I] know that Latin American coordinator. He knows the way [I pitch].”
He’s enjoyed a lot of success so far with the Cyclones, pitching to a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP through his first six appearances. He’s tallied 27 strikeouts as well in 25 innings of work, while only issuing six walks and one hit batsman.
Vargas said he’s been working on a cutter this season to add to his arsenal.
“[I] was throwing [my] slider but [my] slider was too slow,” Vargas said through Rivera. “So [my] cutter is a little bit faster.”
He said he didn’t know that he was throwing a perfect game through five. As for his manager?
“Of course,” Rivera said.
However, if the perfecto continued through the sixth, Rivera said that would have been it for Vargas regardless. The sixth inning was going to be his last. At this stage in the season, pitchers are still on pitch counts, and Vargas’ number was up.
Vargas isn’t the only pitcher who’s impressed as of late, recent call-up Nick Zwack has had a really strong first two outings with the Brooks.
Rivera has liked what he’s seen out of the southpaw in two starts, and has what Rivera describes as an “effortless arm motion.”
“He has a good fastball, I like his fastball, and then he mixes that with his slider and his changeup,” Rivera said. “I think he hit his locations well … when pitchers do that and also get ahead going after hitters, you will be successful.”
In Zwack’s first start in Aberdeen, he threw five innings of two-hit, two-walk and one-run ball before handing it off to Vargas for the final four innings.
In his second start, Zwack was basically just two swings away from spotless, but those two swings were big ones. He gave up a long home run in the second and then a double to begin the fifth, and that was it for him, getting pulled right after the double. Rivera said he was on a pitch count of 80 pitches, and at that point, he was at 75, so that’s why he came out of the game.
That runner eventually scored on a two-out wild pitch, cementing his final line at two runs, two hits, a walk and three strikeouts in 4.0+ innings.
Zwack, a 2021 17th-round pick, started the season in Port St. Lucie and struggled out of the gate when he was coming out of the pen. However, his final two appearances with the team were as a starter, where he threw a combined nine scoreless innings before he was promoted to Brooklyn.
“Just developing my process and finding out what works for me at this level, being able to execute that has been big,” Zwack said. “This adjustment, coming to [Brooklyn], it’s thrown some curveballs at me, but I’m working through it and making sure that I give quality starts for the team every week.”
In his two starts, he has a 3.00 ERA and 0.78 WHIP through nine innings pitched. He has seen a difference between the levels of the minor leagues, especially in the approach of the hitters he faces.
“Plate discipline with the hitters is definitely a step up. Have to be a little better with the location with all three pitches,” Zwack said. “Mistakes will get hit, which, you know, found that out the hard way.”
Both Zwack and Vargas will remain starting pitchers going forward, Rivera said. Zwack’s WHIP is best on the team, and Vargas’ ERA is best among the starting pitchers.
The two of them, one a newcomer to the organization and the other a newcomer to Brooklyn, have played big roles in shaping what has been an excellent pitching staff so far for the Cyclones.
The Cyclones will be home through May 22 with a series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks and Hudson Valley Renegades. For tickets and promotion information, click here.