What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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The lowly Padres are in town to take on the streaking Cubs at Wrigley Field at 8:05 PM EDT on Monday night. Sitting at 13-19 in last place, 2016 has been another disappointing year for the Padres. But tonight’s starter, Cesar Vargas, has been a rare bright spot for the club.

Vargas, 24, got the call up from Double-A San Antonio on April 23 when Tyson Ross succumbed to a shoulder injury. He has impressed thus far, limiting the opposition to just two runs on 13 hits and nine walks with 12 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings across three starts. Vargas has done it against quality competition. He made his major league debut against the Cardinals, then followed that up with a road start against the Dodgers. His most recent start was against the Rockies, whohave unsurprisingly ranked among the league’s better offenses.

Not to rain on the Vargas parade, but he’ll have to improve his control if he wants to succeed over the long term. His walk rate of 13.4 percent, if he had enough innings to qualify, would be the fourth-highest in the game. The major league average is 8.2 percent. Furthermore, Vargas hasn’t missed bats often with a K-rate just under 18 percent (league average: 20.6 percent).

The Cubs will be Vargas’ toughest opponent yet. At 24-6, the Cubs own baseball’s best record in part due to having the best offensive attack in the game. The club averages 6.13 runs per game and has the best on-base percentage at .368. To make matters worse for Vargas tonight, he’ll have to out-duel Jon Lester, who is 3-1 with a 1.58 ERA and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 40 innings in his first six starts of the season.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez) @ Washington Nationals (Stephen Strasburg), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Chris Young) @ New York Yankees (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray) @ Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz), 7:10 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Jon Niese) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 7:10 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez) @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis), 8:05 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson) @ Minnesota Twins (Jose Berrios), 8:10 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber) @ Houston Astros (Mike Fiers), 8:10 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Archie Bradley) @ Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood), 8:40 PM EDT

New York Mets (Steven Matz) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Scott Kazmir), 10:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Moore) @ Seattle Mariners (Felix Hernandez), 10:10 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (Aaron Sanchez) @ San Francisco Giants (Jake Peavy), 10:15 PM EDT