Pitching report: Minor emerges for Braves, Wainwright will rebound
Sometimes the best fantasy plays come from places you least expect it, like taking an A's pitcher over supposed fantasy ace Tim Lincecum from across the bay. While Lincecum is making his owners sweat their big purchase, Bartolo Colon's owners are living high on the hog.
No one will confuse these two contrasting physiques for switching bodies, but their numbers sure look swapped. Lincecum is 0-2 with a 10.54 ERA and 1.90 WHIP is pitching like the waiver-fodder Colon (3-1, 2.63 and 0.80) should have been.
Colon's latest victory was an exercise in precision. He threw an incredible 38 consecutive strikes.
"You can't get 38 strikes out of a pitching machine," A's teammate Jonny Gomes said. "I've never seen anything remotely close."
Pitching runs never get as much notice as streaky hitters do in fantasy, but owners can definitely take advantage of it. Starting Colon in all leagues right now is a great idea, especially heading into a two-start week where he is slated to face the White Sox and Orioles -- two teams that shouldn't scare you.
In this week's pitching report, we break down the surprising hot starts we should trust and buy into and the disappointing cold starts we need to weather and don't sell on.
The Braves have had to work into their pitching depth, going with pleasant surprises Minor and Randall Delgado at the back of their rotation. Tim Hudson (back) will be added to the rotation soon, and Julio Teheran, if he keeps pitching like he has of late in Triple A, might get a call-up, but Minor certainly doesn't warrant being demoted or sent to the bullpen.
Minor is pitching like an ace and this hot start is the beginning of something legit. He was a pitching prospect in his own right, just a cut below Tommy Hanson and Brandon Beachy, and it merely has taken him a bit longer to join our good graces. Lefties tend to take a bit longer to find it in the majors. Minor has it now and should have our complete trust in fantasy now and in the long term.
Former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was prophetic a year ago when he suggested if Peavy doesn't have a good year (2011), Guillen was going to expect to be run out of town. Well, Peavy didn't and Guillen is now making waves -- not the surfing ones -- in Miami.
Guillen was just a year late to the party. Peavy is healthy and looking like an ace again. Through three quality starts, Peavy is 2-0 with more than a strikeout (21) per inning (19 2/3), posting a 0.81 WHIP. Peavy always had good stuff and maybe, just maybe, he can sustain this for another 160 dominant fantasy innings. He has been a great bargain of a late-rounder.
The O's have more experienced closers on the roster in Kevin Gregg and Matt Lindstrom, but Johnson just needed to get through his setup man apprenticeship, a Tommy John surgery and earning Buck Showalter's trust.
Johnson has walked some batters, but he hasn't allowed an earned run and is the Javy Guerra of the AL, the leader in the saves category. You might not want to trust an Orioles closer in weeks where they are loaded up against opponents like the Yankees, Rays, Tigers and Rangers, but they figure to win a lot of close games against weaker competition.
For the sake of avoiding sounding like a broken record, we are going to ignore the poor starts of Lincecum, CC Sabathia and Heath Bell. You tied your wagons to those guys and have to stick with them. You have absorbed their worst and selling now will likely merely give someone else their best, compounding the problem with your bad start. Here are a few more poor starters worth sticking with for now.
His return from Tommy John surgery has been a bit ugly in the early going. But this is to be expected. The procedure has a great track record of recovery, but the early returns aren't always great.
Still, Wainwright has walked just four and struck out 14 in 13 2/3 innings, and in time he should tighten his command in the zone and prove to be less hittable. That velocity can increase as he strengthens, too. Buy low if someone is selling -- or cutting him -- especially if you have reserve spots to stash someone for a few starts.
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That improved control around the zone will eventually be command inside it. And with a lightning arm like Scherzer's he is going to prove unhittable for long stretches. Buying into Scherzer now, if available, is going to make your fantasy team a huge winner later.
Latos was supposed to take off with the contending Reds, not fall flat on his face. Consider his early misfortune your golden opportunity.
No one should be selling Latos (8.22 ERA) after three bad starts, but if they are, you should be buying. An adjustment period is to be expected with a new team, so cut him some slack if he's on your roster -- particularly heading into his two-start week against some favorable opponents.