After a crummy Week 5, I hit the nail on the head with my Week 6 recommendations of Kyle Kendrick, Andrew Cashner, Roberto Hernandez and Scott Feldman. Through their first turn, the four starters have combined to go 3-0 with a 0.99 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. All four go today, and I fear that sub-1.00 ERA isn't going to hold. Sadly, I can almost guarantee it.
This week, I've included an asterisk (*) in the "Play the matchups" section, because what good is it if you're playing the wrong matchup? The asterisk is good in this case. As always, I'm open to any and all suggestions to make this piece as useful as can be going forward, so don't be shy. Tell me how you really feel in the comments below.
Felix Hernandez: Tue-@NYY (Sabathia), Sun-@CLE (Masterson)
Jordan Zimmermann: Mon-@LAD (Beckett), Sat-@SD (Stults)
CC Sabathia: Tue-SEA (Harang), Sun-TOR (Dickey)
Anibal Sanchez: Mon-HOU (Norris), Sat-@TEX (Grimm)
Matt Moore: Tue-BOS (Lackey), Sun-@BAL (Chen)
Lance Lynn: Mon-NYM (Hefner), Sat-MIL (Lohse)
Jake Peavy: Tue-@MIN (Correia), Sun-@LAA (Vargas)
A.J. Burnett: Mon-MIL (Lohse), Sat-HOU (Lyles)
Doug Fister: Tue-HOU (Harrell), Sun-@TEX (Holland)
Derek Holland: Tue-@OAK (Colon), Sun-DET (Fister)
Mike Minor: Mon-@ARI (Miley), Sun-LAD (Beckett)
Homer Bailey: Tue-@MIA (Sanabia), Sun-@PHI (Kendrick)
Pretty, pretty good
Wade Miley: Mon-ATL (Minor), Sun-@MIA (Sanabia)
Travis Wood: Mon-COL (Nicasio), Sun-NYM (Gee)
Kyle Lohse: Mon-@PIT (Burnett), Sat-@STL (Lynn)
A.J. Griffin: Mon-TEX (Grimm), Sun-KC (Mendoza)
R.A. Dickey: Tue-SF (Zito), Sun-@NYY (Sabathia)
Justin Masterson: Mon-NYY (Phelps), Sun-SEA (Harang)
Hector Santiago: Mon-@MIN (Hernandez), Sat-@LAA (Blanton)
Dan Haren: Tue-@LAD (Kershaw), Sun-@SD (Cashner)
Jason Vargas: Tue-KC (Guthrie), Sun-CWS (Peavy)
Jeff Locke: Tue-MIL (Lohse), Sun-HOU (Norris)
John Lackey: Tue-@TB (Moore), Sun-@MIN (Hernandez)
Play the matchups
Andrew Cashner: Tue-@BAL (Tillman), *Sun-WSH (Haren)
David Phelps: Mon-@CLE (Masterson), *Sat-TOR (Morrow)
Justin Grimm: *Mon-@OAK (Griffin), Sat-DET (Sanchez)
Josh Beckett: *Mon-WSH (Zimmermann), Sun-@ATL (Minor)
Dillon Gee: Tue-@STL (Westbrook), *Sun-@CHC (Wood)
Barry Zito: *Tue-@TOR (Dickey), Sun-@COL (Francis)
Bud Norris: Mon-@DET (Sanchez), *Sun-@PIT (Locke)
Not this week
Joe Blanton: Mon-KC (Mendoza), Sat-CWS (Santiago)
Jeff Francis: Tue-@CHC (Villanueva), Sun-SF (Zito)
Aaron Harang: Tue-@NYY (Sabathia), Sun-@CLE (Masterson)
Jeremy Hefner: Mon-@STL (Lynn), Sat-@CHC (Feldman)
Pedro Hernandez: Mon-CWS (Santiago), Sun-BOS (Lackey)
Luis Mendoza: Mon-@LAA (Blanton), Sun-@OAK (Griffin)
Juan Nicasio: Mon-@CHC (Wood), Sat-SF (Lincecum)
Alex Sanabia: Tue-CIN (Bailey), Sun-ARI (Miley)
Travis Wood (45% ESPN; 44% Yahoo!)
2013: 3-2, 6.60 K/9, 2.72 BB/9, 2.33 ERA, 0.93 WHIP
This is the third time I've suggested Travis Wood in my two-starters (one week resulted in a rainout), and I imagine it won't be the last. For whatever reason, fantasy owners aren't buying what Wood is selling, which is a sub-2.50 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP. Only eight other starters can claim the same, but -- outside of Kevin Slowey, who has an ownership rate over 50% -- he's the only one who isn't owned in 100% of leagues. In seven starts, Wood is a perfect 7-for-7 in quality starts, which is tied for the most in baseball with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Patrick Corbin. After his latest start -- 6 2/3 innings, five hits, one run, two walks and eight strikeouts against the Cardinals -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum called Wood "the best starter in baseball pretty much." While that's a bunch of bologna, there's no denying that Wood has been his team's best starter, leading the Cubs in wins, ERA and WHIP. He's done it with a career-best 63.1% first-pitch strike rate and an 8.4% swinging strike rate, which has led to increased strikeouts for the third straight year. Wood gets a pair of home starts against the Rockies and Mets and is a good bet for at least one win. He's not going to be this good all year, obviously, but I don't expect Wood to crash and burn like some others are suggesting is coming.
A.J. Griffin (15.7% ESPN; 37% Yahoo!)
2013: 3-3, 6.25 K/9, 2.62 BB/9, 3.83 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
A.J. Griffin strikes me as the AL version of Travis Wood, but with a way better ballpark to call his home. He gets two starts at O.co Coliseum in Week 7, so feel free to utilize the A's right-hander for both starts, especially for those of you in weekly leagues. Predictably, Griffin's pitched better at home, holding batters to a .225/.308/.377 line in three starts, compared to .243/.287/.431 in four starts on the road. Griffin does have a bit of a home run problem, having given up seven home runs in 44 2/3 innings (10.9% HR/FB), but four of the seven have come on the road. He could run into trouble against the Rangers, who have hit 42 long balls this year (sixth most in the league), but it shouldn't be an issue against the light-hitting Royals, who have 24. With Brett Anderson on and off the shelf and Jarrod Parker suffering from the sophomore blues, Griffin has become the defacto go-to starter in Oakland.
Hector Santiago (3.4% ESPN; 13% Yahoo!)
2013: 1-1, 8.44 K/9, 2.36 BB/9, 1.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP
Every week, I try to include at least one two-starter with some strikeout upside. This week, Hector Santiago is that guy. Better yet, he's a lefty! Santiago has been a breath of fresh air for Chicago, who desperately needed someone to step up in a depleted White Sox rotation (i.e. John Danks, Gavin Floyd). He has a lot going on with a 93 mph heater, a splitter, a change, a curve and a cutter, but he does a good job of mixing in all of his pitches pretty effectively. Two road starts is the preferred approach for utilizing Chicago starters not named Chris Sale or Jake Peavy, as U.S. Cellular Field is friendlier to hitters than pitchers, and that's exactly what Santiago has on tap for Week 7. He gets the Twins on Monday, followed by the Angels on Saturday, neither of which presents a matchup problem for the southpaw. I like Santiago to rack up the Ks this week. Get him in your lineups!
Jason Vargas (20% ESPN; 19% Yahoo!)
2013: 1-3, 5.48 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 4.26 ERA, 1.56 WHIP
I've always had a soft spot for Jason Vargas. He's not great. Heck, he might not even be all that good, technically. So when the Mariners shipped Vargas south to Anaheim in exchange for designated hitter Kendrys Morales, I wasn't too pleased with his new destination. The one thing Vargas really had going for him in Seattle was an extreme pitcher's park in Safeco Field, and that certainly doesn't apply to his new digs in Anaheim. To start the year, Vargas got roughed up in two of his first three starts but then settled in nicely with three quality starts against the Rangers, Mariners and Orioles. After a forgettable start against the Astros on Thursday, Vargas has a great chance to bounce back against the Royals and White Sox, two of the league's worst offenses against lefties. The White Sox, specifically, are last in baseball with 18 wRC against lefties. If there's a week to use Vargas, this is the week.
Alex Kantecki is a contributor for Fake Teams, Big Leagues Mag and Vigilante Baseball. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotodealer.