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

Spencer Strider is the top option on the mound on Thursday. Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

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 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

  • With just four games on Thursday's slate, our streaming options are obviously going to be limited. Fortunately, we do have one high-quality pitcher to stream, and that's Braxton Garrett (28% rostered in ESPN leagues), who will take the mound against the Washington Nationals. Garrett sports a 2.91 ERA and 1.12 WHIP across his last six outings, notching a quality start in four of those turns. Against a Washington offense that ranks bottom-10 with a 92 wRC+ over the last month, the left-hander finds himself in a favorable spot on Thursday as the day's top streaming option.

  • Clarke Schmidt (10%) is another arm at least worth consideration. A recent blowup against the Atlanta Braves (8 ER in 2.1 IP) has skewed his recent ratios, but overall he's been pretty effective over the last couple of months. Removing that Atlanta outing, the right-hander owns a 2.99 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over his last 17 games (16 starts). Thursday's opponent, the Detroit Tigers, have a 92 wRC+ since the All-Star break with a 24.8% strikeout rate, putting Schmidt in good position for continued success on Thursday.

  • Because there are so few games on the slate, there's inevitably going to be some hitter/pitcher overlap while determining who to stream. Although Schmidt is one of the few pitchers worth streaming on Thursday, the Tigers have some bats with some streaming appeal, as well. Kerry Carpenter (36%), who is batting .319/.391/.597 in the second half, does most of his damage against righty pitchers, while Riley Greene (18%), Zach McKinstry (2%), and Parker Meadows (2%) will all have the platoon edge, too. Spencer Torkelson (25%) is also in play, as he's slashing .315/.413/.722 with six homers in his last 15 games.

  • Marcell Ozuna (54%) has been a big part of the Braves' lethal offense of late, batting a torrid .373/.444/.773 over his last 30 games with 11 dingers, 28 RBIs, and 28 runs scored. During that stretch, the 32-year-old veteran has been a top-10 fantasy player, according to the ESPN Player Rater. Even with a tough matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers' Julio Urias on Thursday, the red-hot Ozuna will get to enjoy the platoon advantage. He sports a .417 wOBA and 164 wRC+ versus southpaws this season. Speaking of surprising Player Rater performances, reliever Kyle Finnegan (28%) has been the No. 1 relief pitcher in fantasy over the last month. He's registered a 2.13 ERA in August while racking up nine saves, which ties him for the most in baseball. If you're hunting for saves, or simply want a quality reliever to plug into one of your vacant lineup spots on Thursday, Finnegan is an easy add.

Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday

Bullpen usage for Thursday

By Todd Zola

  • Josh Hader's streak of not giving up an earned run since May 31 was snapped by the St. Louis Cardinals last night, perhaps because Hader was appearing for the third consecutive day. The San Diego Padres closer retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the ninth, but then Masyn Winn doubled before Tommy Edman stroked a walk off homer, saddling Hader with his fifth blown save and dropping his record to 0-3. Hader is sure to get today off. Settling on a replacement is difficult with several tired arms in the Padres bullpen. Nick Martinez is probably the best option.

  • Last night, Raisel Iglesias was asked to seal the deal with a four-run lead. It wasn't a case of the Atlanta Braves scoring late and taking away the save situation. Perhaps Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker wanted to make sure Darius Vines' major league debut, in Coors Field of all places, wasn't spoiled. Iglesias delivered, but now he's appeared on two straight days, using a total of 31 pitches. This jeopardizes his availability for tonight's road date with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fortunately, the Braves bullpen is deep and fairly well-rested for this time of the season. A.J. Minter, Kirby Yates and Joe Jimenez are all in play, perhaps more than one with only four games on the slate.

  • The Miami Marlins are the day's biggest favorites for their road tilt against the Washington Nationals. The Marlins back end of the bullpen was recently shuffled, with David Robertson removed as closer. Tanner Scott (10.5% rostered) and A.J. Puk (6.1%) are the favorites for saves, with the other in play for holds. They're both rested enough to appear today, so using both in your fantasy lineup not only increases the chance of collecting a save, but it also allows for garnering a hold too.

  • The Braves are favored over the Dodgers with the aforementioned bullpen trio in play for a save and holds.

  • The New York Yankees are favored on the road against the Detroit Tigers. Closer Clay Holmes (41.9%) has given up at least a run in each of his last four outings, including the first two games of this series with the Tigers on Monday and Tuesday. As such, there is a chance Holmes gets another day off today, so Wandy Peralta (1.0%) and Tommy Kahnle (.6%) are another tandem to deploy in search of both a save and a hold. For what it's worth, the line is close enough to pick up the Tigers tandem of Alex Lange (17%) and Jason Foley (2.1%) as well.

  • The Padres are slight favorites over the San Francisco Giants in a game where both bullpens should be busy. The overworked Padres relievers were already discussed. Giants closer Camilo Doval is ready if needed, with Tyler Rogers and Taylor Rogers both in play for a hold.

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

Matt Manning 17.5 pitching outs


THE BAT sees Manning putting up 15.6 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 34.5% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $29.30.


  • Jacob Metz projects as a Pitchers Umpire and is likely to be umping in today's game.

  • Manning will have the benefit of the platoon advantage against eight opposing batters in this game.


  • The New York Yankees projected lineup projects as the fourth-best of all teams today in terms of overall hitting skill.

  • It may be best to expect better results for the New York Yankees offense the rest of the season, given THE BAT X sees them as them as the sixth-unluckiest offense in MLB this year.

  • The No. 4 stadium in the majors for boosting walks, via the leading projection system THE BAT, is Comerica Park.

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