By Eric Mack
June 01, 2012

Now that we are entering June, sometimes it is easy to allow the early season to continue to affect our opinions on players. For instance, we still might not think much of the likes of closers Heath Bell, Joel Hanrahan or Alfredo Aceves.

Sometimes the season's early numbers cloud perception over recent reality.

It is important to keep three-week results in mind, though. It is all too easy to overlook the fact those slow starters are now the leaders in saves in the past 21 days. John Axford and J.J. Putz, two more slow starters, are not far behind in recent weeks.

It is a good time to remember the three-week rule of thumb. A pitcher's fortunes can change and make him a world-beater for fantasy owners in brief stretches. With Jered Weaver (back) and Roy Halladay (shoulder) making the top of the starting pitcher hierarchy a victim of 2012's Year of Injury, you need options to fill in.

Here are some of the leaders in head-to-head points leagues the past three weeks you might want to look at:

He will never be the bright talent his prospect star suggested, but he is a lot better than he is being given credit for right now. Bailey has quietly tossed four consecutive quality starts in the past three weeks.

At 26 and, roughly, in his third season as a starter, Bailey is a legit breakout candidate. His hot streak makes him a viable pickup in all leagues.

He probably should be case No. 1 of our leading point. Burnett was left for dead after his 12-earned-run outing on May 2. Since, he has been nothing short of awesome: Five quality starts, with victories in his past three and no earned runs in the past two.

Burnett remains a risk, particularly since his Pirates might not make him a candidate to be a consistent winner, but his history of great streaks makes him a potential contributor in all fantasy leagues.

Boston is resurgent, but Doubront has quietly been the best starter on a staff that should boast a handful of fantasy aces. He has tossed five consecutive quality starts, winning four of them.

With Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbow) on a Triple-A rehab assignment, Doubront is pitching for his rotation spot. Right now, it is going to be awfully difficult to unseat him. Clay Buchholz might be the one sweating most, because Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Daniel Bard and Doubront appear safe.

He was a find last year as a breakthrough fantasy pitcher, and yet we really didn't trust him. We probably should now. Vogelsong has tossed six consecutive quality starts and his numbers this year look every bit as good as last year's.

The 34-year-old is still available in over one-fifth of fantasy leagues, and is not active in almost half. His numbers make him a must-have and must-start in all leagues. This recent stretch is making 2011 look like it wasn't a fluke, merely a coming into his own.

Millwood was once a fantasy ace, if you can believe that -- or remember back more than a decade. If you look at just his past four starts, you will believe it, and remember it.

Millwood has allowed just two earned runs in his past four starts, going 3-0 with 20 strikeouts in 27 innings. His supporting cast is unimpressive, but this stretch makes him at least someone to consider as a stopgap in deeper leagues.

1. Derek Holland, Rangers (74 percent active) -- He is coming off a disaster, but facing the teams in the Bay should do wonders for him. Neither the A's nor the Giants can score runs.

2. Jeff Samardzjia, Cubs (72 percent active) -- This has been a remarkable age-27 breakthrough that makes him worth starting in all leagues, particularly with the Giants and Twins on the schedule.

3. Tim Lincecum, Giants (65 percent active) -- It is hard to believe he has fallen all the way to the questionable area. You have to stick with him amidst his issues. His past outing was at least promising.

4. Homer Bailey, Reds (38 percent active) -- He has tossed four consecutive quality starts, winning his past three. Quietly he is becoming trustworthy enough to use in all leagues, and the ownership percentage is still low (58 percent) relative to the production.

5. Jarrod Parker, Athletics (24 percent active) -- If you throw out one start, Parker has been nothing short of a dominant rookie starter. The matchups are a bit tough, but he is pitching well enough to trust in deeper leagues.

1. Ryan Dempster, Cubs (87 percent owned) -- He got off to a great start to the season, but his results of late have been more 2011-like. Consider him a bit dangerous.

2. Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians (75 percent owned) -- Just when you think you can run him out there, he goes out and throws up a stinker like the one in his past start. The Tigers and Cardinals on the road don't look promising.

3. Joe Blanton, Phillies (40 percent owned) -- He has given up 19 earned runs in his past three starts and hasn't made it past the fifth inning. The easiest sit in fantasy right now.

4. Jake Arrieta, Orioles (37 percent owned) -- Out of the gate, it looked as if Arrieta was headed for a breakthrough. He hasn't yet broken down, but the numbers just look too awful of late to trust him against the resurgent Red Sox and the Phillies.

5. Christian Friedrich, Rockies (35 percent owned) -- After two great starts out of the gate, the league caught up to the rookie quickly. Sure, he has won his past two starts, but it wasn't because of his own pitching.

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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