Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Thursday's MLB games

Look for our fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings, hitter upgrades and downgrades daily to help you make smart fantasy baseball lineup decisions and for MLB betting tips. MLB game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

For an in-depth look at what to expect in this daily article and for how to best use the information contained within, check out our handy primer here.

Note: This file has been updated with any overnight pitching changes or weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.

What you need to know for Thursday's MLB games

By Mike Sheets

  • Somehow, the fantasy baseball community hasn't yet discovered Braxton Garrett (25% rostered in ESPN leagues). Through 14 appearances (13 starts), the Miami Marlins lefty owns a 3.88 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP, and his 5.5 K/BB ratio is top five in baseball (min. 60 IP). He has been even better over his last seven turns, registering a 2.13 ERA and 0.87 WHIP with an 11.3 K/9 rate. And Garrett has been a top 25 fantasy starter over the last month, according to the ESPN Player Rater. Against a Pittsburgh Pirates offense that has been well below average in June (91 wRC+), Garrett is Thursday's top streaming option.

  • Thursday's bout between the Oakland Athletics and the Cleveland Guardians features a pair of worthy pitching streamers. For Oakland, JP Sears (7% rostered) looks to build off his recent success, as he has delivered a 3.00 ERA and 0.95 WHIP across his last seven starts. During that stretch, he has surrendered more than two earned runs only one time. Wins have been extremely hard to come by for A's pitchers this season, but Sears still matches up well against a Guardians offense that ranks bottom five against left-handed pitching with an 88 wRC+ and a .283 wOBA.

  • On Cleveland's side, southpaw Logan Allen (12%) finds himself in an even more appealing spot, toeing the rubber against an Oakland lineup that ranks last in MLB over the last month with a wRC+ of 75, plus a 25.4% strikeout rate that's fifth-worst baseball. Allen has been roughed up a bit in his last couple of outings, but he posted a strong 2.76 ERA in his first eight big league starts, making this a prime opportunity for him to get back on track.

  • Many fantasy managers wrote off the Seattle Mariners' Bryan Woo (3%) after he got lit up in his major league debut a couple of weeks ago (6 ER in 2 IP). He has looked much better in his subsequent two starts, allowing four earned runs over 10 innings with 16 K's and just one walk. Overall, Woo boasts a 14.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 over 12 1/3 frames, and his 2.61 xERA looks a lot better than his 7.30 ERA. So don't dismiss him just yet. A matchup against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium might sound like a tough matchup for the 23-year-old, but the Yanks' offense actually sports an MLB-worst 69 wRC+ in June. Those in deeper formats should be giving Woo a serious look.

  • Lane Thomas has been a top 15 fantasy outfielder this season, batting .290 with 11 homers, 49 runs, 35 RBIs and seven steals in 71 games for the Washington Nationals. That puts him on pace to pop 25 home runs, steal 16 bases and score over 100 runs. Yet he's still available in roughly 70% of ESPN leagues. With a matchup against Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Tommy Henry on Thursday, Thomas should enjoy having the platoon edge, as he's slashing .356/.408/.656 versus southpaws this season. If you have an open roster spot or are getting lackluster production from one of your outfielders, Thomas should be on your radar.

It's not too late to start a free fantasy baseball league. Draft now and start fresh with a 0-0 record beginning the next scoring period. Come and join the fun of ESPN's brand new standard scoring format!

Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday

Bullpen usage watch for Thursday

By Todd Zola

A light schedule Thursday means several tired bullpens get a respite, but there are some scenarios to review as well as some work to get a head start on the weekend.

  • Emmanuel Clase collected his league-leading 22nd save last night, but not before putting two runners on base in the Guardians' 7-6 win over the Athletics. Clase threw 17 pitches after tossing a dozen the previous day. Even though he has worked on consecutive days, he still could be available today, though there isn't a precedent for Clase working three straight days this season. However, prior to the current back-to-back, the closer hadn't pitched for four days. Compounding matters is Trevor Stephan and Sam Hentges have also pitched two days in a row, albeit both with fewer total pitches than Clase. Enyel De Los Santos and Eli Morgan are also in the mix.

  • Camilo Doval capped a bullpen game for the San Francisco Giants with his 20th save in their 4-2 home win over the San Diego Padres. Doval has now tossed 37 pitches over the previous three days and 47 over the last four. He has pitched six times over the last nine days, tossing 112 pitches, so he's due a day of rest. Tyler Rogers has been called upon two days in a row, throwing 41 pitches, so he's also likely sitting today out. Taylor Rogers can work an inning, as can Luke Jackson and Jakob Junis.

  • The Boston Red Sox wrap up a series in Minnesota today and then head a bit south for a weekend set with the Chicago White Sox. Today is a scheduled bullpen day for Boston. Closer Kenley Jansen pitched last night, but he only threw nine pitches, so he could be used today. However, with a winnable series coming up and several relievers needed today, Chris Martin and Josh Winckowski line up for a productive stretch.

  • The Tampa Bay Rays are also in a great spot to string together some wins as they welcome the Kansas City Royals to Tropicana Field for a four-game set. Pete Fairbanks (22.5%) and Jason Adam (28.4%) are candidates for multiple saves and holds through the weekend.

Best Sub-50%-Rostered Hitters for Thursday

Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing and lots more.

Worst Over-50%-Rostered Hitters for Thursday

The Bat X's Best Stacks for Thursday

Prop of the Day

Alex Wood, Giants: Pitching outs prop is 15.5 (-115/-115)


THE BAT sees Wood putting up 14.4 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 35.1% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER, with an expected value of $24.51.


  • Oracle Park projects as the No. 27 stadium in the majors for home runs, per THE BAT projection system.

  • The weather report forecasts the second-most favorable pitching weather of the day, as it relates to temperature and humidity.


  • THE BAT X expects Wood to be limited in this game, projecting a maximum of 82 pitches.

  • The Padres' projected batting order profiles as the best of all teams on the slate.

  • The Padres have been the unluckiest offense in the league this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to positively regress going forward.

  • The wind projects to be blowing out to LF at 12.5 mph in this matchup, the most favorable of the day for batters.