Halos' Santiago, O's Gausman, Tigers' Sanchez among top picks
By Zach Steinhorn
Is your fantasy starting rotation struggling? Or maybe you just need some extra strikeouts? Then consider adding these pitchers, who are all scheduled to make two starts in Week 6.
12-team mixed leagues
Hector Santiago (vs. STL, @SEA): After posting a 2.70 ERA through his first four starts this season, Santiago has not been quite as effective of late, allowing a combined seven runs over his past two starts (11 innings). Still, the Angels southpaw heads into next week with a 3.58 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 7.6 K/9 rate, and he has always been a reliable source of strikeouts (career 8.2 K/9). Both the Cardinals and Mariners rank in the top third of the Majors in runs scored as of Thursday, so next week will present a challenge for Santiago. However, his overall performance this year makes him a viable play in the majority of standard mixed leagues. Also note that in his April 23 outing against the Mariners, he allowed just two runs (with seven K's) over six innings.
Kevin Gausman (@MIN, vs. DET): Gausman has looked sharp in his three starts since coming off the DL, registering a 1.42 ERA and 0.68 WHIP to go along with 14 strikeouts in 19 innings. The former top prospect also pitched fairly well down the stretch last season (3.90 ERA, 9.5 K/9) and could be poised for a breakout campaign with the Orioles in 2016. As for next week: the Twins rank 25th in the Majors in runs, and the Tigers -- despite their top-half placements in runs and OPS -- rank in the top third of baseball in whiffs. For the time being, Gausman needs to be owned in all mixed leagues and started in all two-start weeks.
Deeper mixed leagues
Anibal Sanchez (@WAS, @BAL): Sanchez has been inconsistent so far this season, and lack of command (5.6 BB/9) has played a large role in his struggles. This Detroit righty is more of a deep-league option next week given his tough matchups, but he's whiffed 33 batters in 30 2/3 innings and should not be discounted as a result. And given his long big league track record, Sanchez should be regarded as a candidate to turn things around.
Mike Leake (@LAA, @LAD): Fresh off a mediocre performance against a Phillies offense that ranks 14th in the NL in runs scored as of Thursday, Leake is tough to trust right now. That said, his matchups next week are rather favorable. Despite the offensive star power on the two Los Angeles squads, both the Angels and Dodgers rank in the bottom third in the Majors in OPS. Furthermore, both teams rank in the bottom six in runs scored at home. Starting the Cardinals' righty next week is certainly risky, but reward potential is certainly present.
Cesar Vargas (@CHC, @MIL): Sure, three career big league starts is a tiny sample size, but a 1.10 ERA is hard to ignore. With one tough matchup followed by a favorable one next week, Vargas should be left on the waiver wire in all mixed leagues. But NL-only owners might want to take a chance on the 24-year-old Padres arm, who has notched a 3.07 ERA and 1.17 WHIP across eight Minor League seasons.
Zach Steinhorn is fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.