Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:00 PM EST
7:05 PM EST. We hate to kick a team when they’re down but the Phillies have turned into a crap-show and now we get the Cubbies at a reduced rate because the Phillies are back at home and Jason Vargas (LHP - PHI) has given them a lift since being acquired at the deadline. For those that don’t mind spotting a tag, the Cubbies in the -125 range is a bargain but we refuse to spot prices in this sport so we’ll stick to the riskier bet of spotting runs.
Before we get to Vargas, we’ll cover Jose Quintana (LHP - CHC) but frankly, this wager is not about backing him. Quintana has excellent numbers against current Philadelphia batters (.223 BAA, .668 OPS) and that’s good enough for us. Again, this wager is all about fading Vargas and the sinking Phillies.
2018 was a year to forget for Jason Vargas, as he logged a 5.77 ERA in 92 innings, but he has bounced back with a 4.09 ERA through 106 innings in 2019. What should we expect going forward, given his recent trade to hitter-friendly Philadelphia? Plain and simple…..his underlying metrics indicate a rocky road ahead: A subpar first-pitch strike rate and ball% show that his poor control is unlikely to improve. Vargas is just shy of the amount of innings pitched needed to qualify for the leaderboard, but only six qualified MLB starters have a higher BB% than his 9.7% mark (MLB average: 7.7%). Coupled with his below average strikeout rate, he’s left with command that would rank as the 8th worst among qualified starting pitchers in 2019. He has been aided by a fortuitous hit % and a little hr/f luck in 2019. His velocity has fallen 1.9 mph to a career-low 84.5 mph, which leaves him little margin for error. Vargas is the epitome of a crafty veteran, as he tries to work around strikingly low velocity. The 36-year-old is hanging on to MLB fifth starter status, but declining skills say that grip is quite tenuous. The move to hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park (+25% LHB HR; +24% RHB HR) isn’t a good fit, at least on paper, so he figures to have a tough time over the rest of 2019. We’re betting that rough time begins here in a big way.
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Chicago -1½ +121 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.42)