Note: Don't whiff on this special FanDuel offer. Win your first contest or get your money back (up to $10) to keep playing. Try FanDuel now!
The biggest pitching news heading into Fantasy Week 6 (May 9-15) is the loss of Garrett Richards to a torn UCL and the near certainty of Tommy John surgery. This will leave an owner in nearly every league with a hole to fill in the rotation. In terms of a long-term replacement, Steven Wright and Sean Manaea would be the top targets to search for. If neither is available, Tyler Duffey is still unowned in 90 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com. Even if you are not a Richards owner, you might find that Duffey would be an upgrade over someone on your roster. (H/t to @TheDiablo_27 for pointing out Duffey as a possible Richards replacement.)
You can also opt to occupy Richards' slot with a one-week fill-in. Given the wealth of two-start options and favorable matchups this week, there should be someone either on waivers or your bench who could start in Richards' place.
The Two-Start Landscape
The ranks of two-start pitchers are plenty deep this week, with 27 starters with ownership rates below 60 percent scheduled for two outings. Not too far above that threshold are Adam Conley and Kevin Gausman, who head into the weekend with 73 percent ownership rates. Conley is a must-add, if available, and I was surprised to find Gausman still on waivers in one of my 12-team mixed Head-to-Head leagues. I would rather have Conley, as Gausman has been light on strikeouts. However, a potential paucity of Ks is less important in a tw0-start week.
You may need to dig through some of the highly-available starters to find one to your liking. Chris Devenski (6 percent owned; vs. CLE, at BOS) and Adam Morgan (5 percent owned; at ATL, vs. CIN) are worth looking into, even in standard mixed leagues. Neither have attracted a great deal of prospect hype, but both are getting more swings and misses this season. Morgan is throwing more than 2 mph harder than a season ago, and he gets a pair of great matchups, so he is particularly intriguing. There is an outside chance that Devenski's two-start week could be spoiled by the possible return of Lance McCullers (shoulder) from the DL.
Matchups that Matter
I am generally opposed to sitting any pitcher I drafted to be my No. 1 or 2 starter, but I would consider a such a move this week if I were a Gerrit Cole owner. He hasn't been anywhere close to top form so far, and in his most recent start, he was clobbered by the Cubs for six runs (five earned) in 4 2/3 innings. Cole gets the Cubs again in Week 6, this time at Wrigley Field. In all likelihood, I'm starting him, but if I need to make room for a reliable two-start pitcher, I would send Cole to the bench.
It will be far easier to decide to bench of a couple of Astros, namely Mike Fiers and Collin McHugh. Both will face the Red Sox, who have the highest wOBA and OPS against right-handed pitchers in the majors. Before Fiers heads to Boston, he will also have a home start against the Indians, who rank ninth in wOBA against righties.
Brandon Finnegan exited his last start with a hamstring injury, but assuming he is healthy and stays on his normal schedule, he will get a start at the Phillies in Week 6. Though Finnegan is not always trustworthy for a one-start week, he is worth a rotation spot this time around, given that he will face the team with the lowest wOBA against lefties (even lower than the Braves!). And speaking of the anemic Braves, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff and Edinson Volquez will all get a crack against the majors' worst offense.
The Padres are rivaling the Braves for futility against righties, so John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks are close to must-start, even with just one start. This is especially true for Lackey, who has been highly efficient, if not always effective. Jimmy Nelson has had some control issues this season, but he continues to pitch well against righties. He will also face the Padres, who are not only scuffling offensively, but also have a righty-heavy lineup.
Extreme Park Factors
If I'm going to make an exception to the "start your studs" rule with Cole, I might as well make one for Matt Harvey, too. His lone start is at the Rockies. Harvey has never pitched a game at Coors Field, and given his recent struggles, I'm not feeling too bold about trusting his ability to handle the high altitude.
According to ERA, Ian Kennedy is better this year (2.61) than last (4.28), but xFIP suggests he's worse (4.60 in 2016, 3.70 in 2015). He is still very much a flyball pitcher, and not surprisingly, his ERA and Isolated Power have been lower at Kauffman Stadium than on the road. Even though the Yankees haven't been hitting for much power, I wouldn't trust Kennedy at Yankee Stadium this week.
Earlier this season, it looked like Hector Santiago was getting over his flyball tendencies, but he has allowed 26 flies over his past two starts. That could spell trouble for the lefty in hitter-friendly environments, but with a home start against the Cardinals and a road start at the Mariners, he could squeak out a productive week in points leagues.
Eduardo Rodriguez (knee) will make a rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday, and he could be activated to make his season debut in Week 6 against the Astros. His return for the coming week is not a given, so be sure to check on his status before Monday night's lineup lock.
Lance McCullers (shoulder) will make a rehab start for Triple-A Fresno on Saturday and could possibly rejoin the Astros' rotation as soon as Week 6.