Baseball is starting to heat up as we head into the summer months. Some players are struggling with injuries, while others just can’t seem to put together a decent year. As young players and new faces approach the majors, here are the pitchers you should consider for your fantasy team. Who is this year’s Ubaldo Jimenez???

Today’s Rookie of the Week is…Mike Leake!

Mike Leake, selected by the Cincinnati Reds as the 8th overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft, has thus far pitched his way to feasible Rookie of the Year contention. In his past two starts, Leake has posted a 1.35 ERA in 13.1 innings. In addition, he’s struck out nine batters in comparison to two walks within that span. The 22-year old has yet to lose a game in nine starts this season, and all but one have been quality starts. He is 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA, striking out 42 batters in 60 innings, while pitching just as well on the road as at Great American Ballpark (the Reds stadium). Leake is available in 48% of Yahoo! formats, so if you lack pitching depth add the crafty rookie pitcher.

Advice: He’s been the best pitcher in the Reds starting rotation in 2010. If he’s a free agent, add him, because the Reds offense (7th in MLB in runs scored) will give him the win more often than not.

Honorable Mention:

Hisanori Takahashi, who the Mets recently placed into the starting rotation from the bullpen, has shown that he has the stuff to stick. Even though he’s 35, Takahashi pitched nine previous seasons with the Yomiuri Giants; however, this is his first major league season, so he has rookie status. ¬†Takahashi has made two starts this past week, going 1-0, while pitching 12 scoreless innings. He has a tremendous repertoire, mastering four pitches, including a nasty screwball. Before moving to the rotation, the Japanese veteran was one of the best pieces in the Mets bullpen. He has incredible control, and has struck out 44 batters in 38 innings. Takahashi is available in 86% of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, and is a lock in the Mets starting rotation for now.

Advice: Pick him up for the K stat. He is an artist with his pitches, as he paints the corners, so grab him while you can. Reminds me of a Tom Glavine type pitcher, and the funny thing is they wear the same number (47).

Cold Case:

Brian Matusz, selected by the Baltimore Orioles as the 4th pick overall in the 2008 MLB draft, has been less than impressive his past two outings. This past week he was 0-2, giving up 13 runs in only 7.1 innings, and yielding 16 total hits. He hasn’t had issues with control, but when he’s throwing strikes they seem to be finding the bats. This season the 22-year old has a 2-5 record, along with a devastating 5.76 ERA for a horrible Orioles team. Yes he’s a top pitching prospect, but at this point Matusz isn’t getting the job done. The Baltimore Orioles have the worst record in the majors and second-to-last in the American League in scoring runs. If his offense can’t give him the run support he needs, Matusz won’t be a productive fantasy pitcher to own. He’s owned in 24% of Yahoo! formats, which should definitely change by the beginning of June.

Advice: Matusz is a tough young pitcher, but he hasn’t yet found his grove. If he was on the Yankees or Texas, I would say keep him, but he’s on one of the worst offensive teams in the league. His next three projected starts are against the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Red Sox. Drop him in all leagues, or keep him on your bench until he matches against a bad team.

On The Way Up?:

Madison Bumgarner, selected 10th overall in the 2007 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants, has been shutting down the PCL hitters all season. After a terrible first two starts with Triple-A Fresno (7 IP, 11 ERs, 21 hits), ¬†Bumgarner has allowed only six earned runs in his last seven games. The strikeout numbers are down, but his control is there (only 13 BBs in 48.2 IP). Right behind Stephen Strasburg, he is the best pitching prospect thats major league ready. He’s available in 97% of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, and with Todd Wellemeyer struggling at the back of the Giants rotation, don’t be surprised if Bumgarner gets a call up by mid-June.

Advice: Bumgarner could be days away OR months away. Its hard to tell with the Giants organization. This is the same team that signed Benjie Molina and now have the hot catching prospect Buster Posey blocked at the Triple-A level. If you have a bench spot open, you should add Madison in deep leagues because he’s worth the wait.

Just think in a few years–Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner….if only they had hitters…

Do you agree with my choices? Did I miss anyone important? Feel free to comment.