OAKLAND -- Jason Vargas didn't win his final start Saturday when a late-inning bullpen meltdown left him in a no-decision, but the Mariners lefty extended his career high in innings and continued establishing himself as a dependable part of Seattle's pitching future.
Vargas, 29, enters his final season of arbitration eligibility this offseason and thus is a year from free agency. He's certainly made a strong point to his value after going 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA in 217 1/3 innings.
Going into Sunday's games, Vargas was sixth in the Majors in innings behind the impressive list of Justin Verlander (238 1/3), R.A. Dickey (227 2/3), Felix Hernandez (226 2/3), Clayton Kershaw (219 2/3) and James Shields (218 2/3).
"I felt great about that," Vargas said of posting his second straight 200-plus inning season. "It just means I'm giving our team an opportunity to win and being somebody they can rely on. That's my main goal. Obviously I want to win games, but I'd rather be out there to keep us in it as long as possible."
Manager Eric Wedge said Vargas deserved to win 17 or 18 games this season.
"He put together a complete season and really came into his own this year," Wedge said.
Vargas has struggled in the second half in previous seasons, but this year he was 6-4 with a 3.55 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.
"Being able to take the first half into the second half has been a struggle for me," he said. "So to do as well as I did after the break is awesome to me. It's that next step. That and being able to limit games that get out of control. I had a couple hiccups, but nothing really where I let the game get out of control."