PITCHER TO FADE: JASON VARGAS
Major League Baseball starts the last full week of the first month of the season with a solid nine-game slate featuring some interesting options on the mound. I don’t like either of the top two options who cost over $10K tonight, but I do think there are some solid options a little bit further down the salary structure. Here are my top 5 plays of the day.
1. Zack Greinke – ARI vs. SD – $9,400
Greinke doesn’t have the most elite strikeout stuff on the board tonight, but he is definitely the safest play available as he faces the Padres at Chase Field. He’ll look for more run support from the D-Backs lineup who had a big week since letting him down in his last start. That start also came against San Diego when Greinke allowed just one run on five hits through eight innings but took the loss in a 1-0 game. Greinke still had 26.9 DKFP in that outing and has had two strong outings in his last three trips to the rubber.
Given another matchup with the light-hitting Padres, Greinke should deliver once again. He is 8-2 in his career against San Diego with a 1.96 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 115 innings. His former team the Dodgers were the only one to give him trouble this season, and I think Greinke is a solid play at home tonight.
2. Francisco Liriano – TOR @ LAA – $9,700
Liriano’s first start as a Blue Jay couldn’t have gone much worse as he lasted just 0.1 innings allowing five runs on three hits and four walks for a total of -11.5 DKFP. After a strong Spring Training, it was an unexpected result, and Liriano has done all he can to prove it was an outlier in his last two outings.
In each of his last two starts, Liriano has picked up at least 25 DKFP. He struck out 10 against the Orioles allowing two runs in 6.2 innings but taking a hard-luck loss. His last time out, he fanned six against the Red Sox allowing just four hits in 5.1 innings for 25 DKFP. Liriano will look to continue the form he showed in those two starts tonight against the Angels, but this will be his first start on the road since his disaster in Tampa. That fact raising the risk of another dud is all that’s holding him back from the top spot.
3. Jason Vargas – KC @ CHW – $8,000
Vargas is very affordable at only $8K, but I’d take him over any pitcher except Liriano and Greinke even if price was not an issue at all. Vargas has only allowed one run all season while holding opponents to a .194 average in his three starts.
He has also shown solid strikeout potential fanning 23 batters in 20.2 innings. He gets a great matchup in Chicago tonight as he faces the White Sox who are second-to-last in the Majors in runs scored. Chicago has hit just .211 as a team and only the Red Sox have hit fewer home runs. Vargas should be able to continue his sizzling start in Chicago tonight.
4. Amir Garrett – KC @ TEX – $6,700
Despite his hot start, Vargas hasn’t been the biggest surprise on tonight’s list since Amir Garrett has come out of nowhere to produce great numbers to start the season. The Reds’ rookie enters tonight’s start in Milwaukee with a 2-1 record and an impressive 1.83 ERA and 21 strikeouts compared to only three walks in his 19.2 innings.
He has struggled with his control in the past, but he has been sharp all season. He took a hard-luck loss his last time out, but he was still able to produce a season-high 31 DKFP since he fanned 12 Orioles. Tonight, he gets the Brewers who lead the Majors with 206 strikeouts in their 20 games. That’s an incredibly high number meaning they average over one strikeout per inning (10.3 K/9) which should let Garrett continue his emergence as one of the Reds go-to starters.
5. Miguel González – CWS vs. KC – $7,500
In his last start, González returned to a flashback of his AL East days allowing just four hits in Yankee Stadium and holding New York to one run in 8.1 innings on his way to his first win of the season. His 25.8 DKFP gave him two starts this year with 20+ DKFP.
González faces the Royals tonight in his second home start of the season. KC is dead last in the Majors in run scoring, and González held them to just eight runs in 20.1 innings last season for a 3.54 ERA. He went 0-2 in those four starts, but with the Royals struggling offensively, he should have better results tonight at Guaranteed Rate Field where he is 6-4 over the last two seasons.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.