By Eric Mack
April 20, 2012

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.

Now, Lincecum, he should scare you right now.

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.

1. Mike Minor, Braves

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.

2. Jake Peavy, White Sox

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.

3. Jim Johnson, Orioles

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.

Others to buy into: Jonathon Niese, Mets; Lance Lynn, Cardinals; Carlos Zambrano, Marlins; Jake Arrieta, Orioles; Matt Garza, Cubs; Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays; Rick Porcello, Tigers; and Beachy, Braves.

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.

1. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

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.

2. Max Scherzer, Tigers

Mark our words: This is still going to be the best season of Scherzer's young career. Yes, it looks bad now because he has given up 20 hits in 14 2/3 innings, but he has 17 strikeouts and only four walks.

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.

3. Mat Latos, Reds

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.

Others to avoid scrapping: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox; Francisco Liriano, Twins (yes, count this guy as the biggest Liriano apologist ever); Lincecum, Giants; Sabathia, Yankees; Phil Hughes, Yankees; Bell, Marlins; Ervin Santana, Angels; Daniel Hudson, D'backs; and Jon Lester, Red Sox.

1. Bartolo Colon, A's (38 percent starting) -- He is off to another great start and can be good for at least a few months.

2. Henderson Alvarez, Blue Jays (38 percent starting) -- He likely didn't have many fans this spring, because of that small sample size down the stretch last year. Likewise, you shouldn't jump ship with him now. He can beat the Orioles and Mariners next week.

3. Jake Peavy, White Sox (61) -- He has to face Colon in his first start, but Peavy looked like an ace last time out and can be a comeback pitcher of the year.

4. Mark Buehrle, Marlins (49) -- He rarely gets the fantasy love he deserves. He is off to a decent start and will start in two large pitcher parks.

5. Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays (75) -- He isn't off to a great, or even a good, start, but at Kansas City and vs. Seattle, he could prove to be the most valuable pitcher of the week.

1. Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers (67) -- It isn't looking good for him out of the gate and he has to face the Rangers and Tigers this upcoming week. Not a time to trust him.

2. Johan Santana, Mets (64) -- He is coming off an awful start, will be going on regular rest for the first time(s) coming off major shoulder surgery and will be making a start at Colorado. Even if he pitches well, his tight pitch count will make it tough for him to stay in games long enough to win right now.

3. Jair Jurrjens, Braves (39) -- This is more of a warning for how bad his command is right now. He will improve but don't trust him in a mixed league.

4. Mat Latos, Reds (65) -- It probably isn't a good idea to sit him against the Giants and Astros, but you can't be feeling confident in his poor start as a Red. Only sit him in smaller mixed leagues.

5. R.A. Dickey, Mets (34) -- Picking him up wasn't a bad idea after his hot start, but his past start makes it a bad idea to trust him against the hot Marlins and Rockies in Colorado.

Eric Mack writes fantasy for If you miss his Monday baseball trends, Wednesday prospect report or Friday pitching review, you can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).

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