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 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

  • Thursday presents us with yet another truncated slate, this one with just six games on the docket. With so few games, we'll have to get a little creative with some of our streaming choices, but Griffin Canning (15% rostered in ESPN leagues) is a rock-solid streamer for his home matchup versus the Cleveland Guardians. After a pair of relief appearances, Canning has looked strong in two starts, firing seven innings of one-run ball against the New York Mets and holding the Oakland Athletics to two runs in six frames, with 16 total strikeouts across the two outings. The Guardians, meanwhile, have produced very little offensively over the past month, ranking 28th in MLB with a .290 wOBA, including the fewest homers (22) in the AL.

  • Javier Assad (18% rostered) entered the Chicago Cubs rotation in early August, and he's acclimated quite quickly. The right-hander has a 2.25 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP across six starts, limiting opponents to two (or fewer) earned runs in each turn. As a guy who doesn't generate much swing-and-miss and also has merely average control, there's certainly some regression risk here. In fact, Assad's xERA of 4.55 is nearly two full runs higher than his actual 2.69 ERA. Even so, the Arizona Diamondbacks offense has been only league average (99 wRC+) over the past month, so it's fine to keep rolling with Assad on this abbreviated slate.

  • On Thursday, veteran Adam Wainwright, who sports a ghastly 10.89 ERA over his last 10 starts, takes the hill against the Atlanta Braves, the top-scoring team in baseball. This one could get ugly, folks. While Atlanta's big names are obviously widely rostered, Marcell Ozuna (69%), Orlando Arcia (33%), and Eddie Rosario (14%) are all still available in a lot of leagues, giving you a way to get some exposure to this prime matchup.

  • Josh Lowe (48%) is quietly on pace to go 20/30 this season, and he's been on a tear of late, batting .340/.379/.577 with five dingers, 19 RBI, and six stolen bases over his last 28 games. This is a guy who can provide help in all categories, so as long as there's a right-hander on the mound (the Tampa Bay Rays still frequently sit him against southpaws), Lowe is a quality fantasy option. He'll enjoy the platoon advantage on Thursday, which puts him in the streaming conversation, even against a tough pitcher like Luis Castillo.

  • We're obviously not going out of our way to start Braxton Garrett (29%) against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, but with so few games on the slate, it's not a crazy proposition. The left-hander has put up a 2.70 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP over his last seven turns, which includes a quality start versus these same Dodgers two weeks ago. The risk here is clear, but if you're an underdog in your head-to-head matchup, it might pay off to take some gambles.

Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday

Bullpen usage watch for Thursday

By Todd Zola

  • Tanner Scott (14.8% rostered) has been handling ninth-inning duties for the Marlins, but there isn't anyone established enough in setup capacity to recommend for holds. On the other hand, Evan Phillips (35.5%) and Brusdar Graterol (7%) share closing duties for the Dodgers, and with the other serving as setup man, the duo make great pickups to be used as a tandem on a Thursday roster with holes to fill.

  • Pete Fairbanks has been closing for the Rays, but he's appeared for two straight days and four of the last five. Colin Poche has recorded a similar recent workload, leaving Robert Stephenson as the top candidate for late-inning duties. For Seattle, Andres Munoz (49% rostered) has worked on two consecutive days. He's yet to pitch on three straight days, but there have been increasing occurrences of others doing it over the last few weeks. Adding Matt Brash as a hedge is plausible, but he's also pitched for the last two days.

  • Yankees closer Clay Holmes has also pitched the past two days and on four of the previous five. Jonathan Loaisiga and Tommy Kahnle each have two holds over the past week, so they're an option to pick up together for tonight's affair. Alex Lange (16.8%) and Jason Foley (2.6%) are another pair to consider for tonight.

  • The Atlanta Braves will try to avoid being swept by the St. Louis Cardinals at home. The Braves haven't used Raisel Iglesias since last Saturday, so he's well-rested. St. Louis hasn't needed a closer yet this series, with Ryan Helsley (46.4%) the likeliest option if that changes today.

  • Adbert Alzolay (31.8%) remains one of best kept secrets among closers. The Cubs haven't sent Alzolay to the mound since September 1 as he's been nursing a minor injury, but he's been cleared to return. Paul Sewald (63.2%) has struggled this month, but he remains the Diamondbacks closer and may be available in some 10-team leagues.

  • Carlos Estevez (49%) is available in just over 50% of ESPN leagues. The Angels closer didn't pitch yesterday, but he did appear the prior two days, including when he blew Tuesday's save. He's ready for retribution tonight. Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase is a frequent visitor to this space, and he appeared yesterday, but he needed only 10 pitches to notch his 38th save and was working with three days of rest, so he's fine to appear in back-to-back fashion.

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

Eduardo Rodriguez, Tigers,16.5 pitching outs (-115/-115)


THE BAT X sees Rodriguez putting up 14.8 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 32.0% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $31.26.

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.


  • According to THE BAT X, Rodriguez's overall pitching ability grades out in the 90th percentile out of all starters currently in MLB.

  • Yankee Stadium's CF fences are the fifth-deepest in baseball.


  • It may be sensible to expect improved performance for the Yankees offense over the rest of the season, given that THE BAT X believes they have been the second-unluckiest offense in the game this year.

  • Alan Porter, a hitter's umpire, is scheduled to be behind the plate in this game.

  • Yankee Stadium ranks as the No. 6 ballpark in the league for home runs, according to THE BAT X.

  • A correlation exists between high heat and more offense (and fewer strikeouts), and this game is expected to have the hottest temperature on today's schedule at 84 degrees.