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 towards 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 utilize 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

  • Brayan Bello (23% rostered in ESPN leagues) has emerged as a legitimate fantasy asset, even if his roster percentage doesn't reflect it. The Boston right-hander has been dynamite for two straight months, posting a 2.45 ERA over his last 10 starts while holding opponents to two or fewer earned runs in all but one of them. Bello's dominance should continue on Thursday against the Miami Marlins, who have been below average against right-handed pitching this season (92 wRC+). He's the top streaming option of the day.

  • Taijuan Walker (29%) is on some kind of run right now. Through his last seven outings, he has delivered a minuscule 1.71 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, including giving up just two earned runs over his last four starts, spanning 26 innings. While it's difficult to fully buy into the veteran's recent success, he remains a worthy streamer in favorable matchups -- and Thursday's matchup versus the Chicago Cubs qualifies. Over the last 30 days, the Cubs rank 23rd in baseball with a .302 wOBA and a 24.7% strikeout rate.

  • Speaking of favorable matchups, Clarke Schmidt (7%) gets arguably the most favorable draw on the docket with a road start against the Oakland Athletics. With an MLB-worst .287 wOBA and an inflated 25.5% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching, Oakland has one of the most exploitable offenses in baseball, and they happen to play in one of the game's most pitcher-friendly venues. For his part, Schmidt has a 2.19 ERA over his last seven turns, never allowing more than three runs in any outing. He hasn't missed enough bats during that stretch (6.8 K/9) to make him a huge fantasy commodity, but he's still a great streaming target in a prime matchup like this one.

  • A slow start got Jake McCarthy (21%) demoted to the minors back in late April, but he's since been recalled and is producing the way that fantasy managers expected him to when they drafted him back in March. Since his late-May return, the 25-year-old is batting .308/.366/.418 in 27 games. The power hasn't necessarily been there (only one homer), but he's swiped 14 bags during that span. On Thursday, McCarthy gets the platoon advantage against Tampa Bay's Yonny Chirinos and his 5.59 ERA so far in June.

  • All of the big-name Los Angeles Dodgers hitters are already rostered, but there are still some lesser-rostered Dodgers bats to stream at Coors Field against Chase Anderson, who has a 10.13 ERA across five June starts. James Outman (23%), David Peralta (1%), and Jason Heyward (0%) all carry the platoon edge in Thursday's Coors tilt.

Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday

Bullpen usage watch for Thursday

By Todd Zola

  • With most of the usual suspects having Thursday off, only Ryan Pressly is flagged for questionable availability when the Houston Astros meet the St. Louis Cardinals in the rubber game of their three-game set in Busch Stadium. Pressly just picked up his 15th save, posting a rare clean inning that included two strikeouts. He used 15 pitches, but was working on two days of rest, so he's likely still in good shape for tonight's finale.

  • Jason Adam hasn't pitched since last Sunday, so there is a strong chance the Tampa Bay Rays will get him into today's contest against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the desert. With Pete Fairbanks saving last night's affair, Adam will likely be tonight's closer with the club not wanting to overwork the oft-injured Fairbanks.

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

Jesus Luzardo, Marlins, 5.5 strikeouts (-136/+106)


THE BAT X sees Luzardo putting up 5.2 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 41.1% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $21.31.

Note: Expected Value is a measure of how good a bet is, factoring the probability that it will win versus the odds the book is providing. If you were to wager $1.00 100 times on a bet with an Expected Value of $25, you would win some and you would lose some, but in the end you would expect to come away with $25 in profit on your $100 investment.


  • Compared to the average starter, Luzardo has been granted more leash than the average pitcher this year, recording an additional 4.4 adjusted pitches each outing.


  • According to THE BAT X, the offense with the third-least strikeout-prone lineup today is the Red Sox with a 20.9% underlying K%.

  • As far as temperature and humidity go, the eighth-most favorable pitching weather on the schedule is expected for this matchup.

  • The Red Sox have six batters in their projected lineup that will have the benefit of the platoon advantage against Luzardo today, which is especially precarious given his huge platoon split.

  • Playing on the road generally lessens pitcher metrics in all categories due to the lack of home field advantage, which should be the case for Luzardo in today's game.