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. Game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.
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Note: This file has been updated with overnight pitching changes and 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's nine-game slate is highlighted by an afternoon start for Eury Perez (43% rostered in ESPN leagues), one of the day's top streaming options. A road outing against a Milwaukee Brewers club that's trying to hold down first place in the NL Central isn't necessarily a prime spot for the young righty. However, it's not terrible either, as the Brewers offense has been slightly below average (98 wRC+) over the past 30 days. For his part, Perez owns a 2.08 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 across his last four turns, which included a 10-strikeout performance against the Los Angeles Dodgers in mid-August. If you prefer upside with your streamers, Perez is your guy.
Kenta Maeda (12% rostered) hasn't been at his best lately, posting a 6.56 ERA over his last five starts. That said, he finds himself in an appealing matchup against the Chicago White Sox. Since the All-Star break, the Pale Hose's offense has been the worst in the American League, stumbling to an 83 wRC+ and 23.9% K%. If Maeda is going to get back on track before the end of the regular season, this is the spot.
At this point in the season, a lot of fantasy managers have either checked out or have turned their focus over to fantasy football. That might explain how a player like Royce Lewis (41%) is still so widely available. The 24-year-old Lewis has been a top-10 player in fantasy over the past 30 days, according to the ESPN Player Rater, batting .310 with eight homers, 31 RBIs, 22 runs and four stolen bases over that stretch. Once regarded as one of baseball's top prospects, Lewis is living up to that billing. If you need a potential difference-making bat to help carry you through the fantasy playoffs, this could be it.
A Coors Field matchup against Chase Anderson is definitely a spot we want to attack on Thursday. The right-hander has been pummeled for a 10.25 ERA over his past nine starts, giving up six or more runs in four of those outings. Amazingly, the entire Giants offense is still available in more than 50% of ESPN leagues. Mike Yastrzemski (6%), who is slashing .425/.521/.850 with three dingers and nine RBIs over his past 16 games, is the top target here, but Joc Pederson (5%) and LaMonte Wade Jr. (9%) also carry the platoon edge against Anderson in this matchup.
Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday
Bullpen usage watch for Thursday
By Todd Zola
Nothing good ever comes from a leadoff walk, especially if earlier in the at-bat, the hitter hit a foul pop that was dropped by the shortstop for an error. David Bednar surrendered an unearned run, but he and the Pittsburgh Pirates escaped with a 4-3 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, giving Bednar his 34th save of the season. He tossed a hefty 30 pitches, so even though he was appearing with three days of rest, Bednar is questionable to come back today, especially since the finale with Washington is a fast turnaround with a 12:35 p.m. ET matinee. Colin Holderman would be the logical fill-in, but he has appeared for two straight days. Next up is Jose Hernandez, but his late-inning ledger shows only four holds with two blown saves, so it may be best to look for a Bednar replacement elsewhere.
With Cincinnati Reds starter Connor Phillips providing only four innings, seven relievers followed with five scoreless frames Wednesday, capped by Alexis Diaz collected his 36th save with an 18-pitch, two strikeout effort. Diaz also pitched on Tuesday, tossing 17 pitches. Appearing for a third consecutive day can't be ruled out, as closers on contending teams have done it frequently down the stretch, though DIaz has yet to do it. Buck Farmer did not appear yesterday, so he's the best candidate to replace, or pair with, Diaz.
San Francisco Giants closer Camilo Doval was brought into the top of the ninth Wednesday in a 5-5 tie with the Cleveland Guardians having runners on second and third. Doval induced a grounder to record the third out. The Giants failed to score in the bottom of the frame, sending the contest into extra innings. Doval stayed in and delivered a scoreless 10th and was rewarded with a win after his club walked it off in the bottom of the inning. Even though Doval secured four outs, he needed only a dozen pitches. He threw 19 on Monday, but Doval's usage patterns this season indicate he could appear today, even after throwing 31 pitches over the past three days.
A doubleheader at Fenway Park offers a great means of filling roster holes on a day where only 18 teams are in action. Boston Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen is on the COVID-19 list, elevating Chris Martin, Josh Winckowski and John Schreiber up the ladder, with Martin the top option. Despite walking three, New York Yankees closer Clay Holmes (44.1% rostered) collected the save in the opener of Tuesday's doubleheader between the same clubs and will be ready for at least one outing today. Wandy Peralta and Tommy Kahnle are also likely to pitch today.
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.
Oswaldo Cabrera (NYY, RF -- 2%) at Houck and Whitlock
Giancarlo Stanton (NYY, RF -- 46%) at Houck and Whitlock
Trevor Story (BOS, 2B -- 10%) vs. King and Schmidt
Estevan Florial (NYY, CF -- 0%) at Houck and Whitlock
Wilyer Abreu (BOS, CF -- 1%) vs. King and Schmidt
Jake Bauers (NYY, 1B -- 0%) at Houck and Whitlock
Anthony Volpe (NYY, SS -- 36%) at Houck and Whitlock
Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Thursday
Nathaniel Lowe (TEX, 1B -- 87%) at Gausman
Ketel Marte (ARI, 2B -- 93%) at Senga
Corbin Carroll (ARI, LF -- 99%) at Senga
Prop of the Day
Aaron Civale, Tampa Bay Rays: Over/Under 15.5 pitching outs (+135/-175)
THE BAT X sees Civale putting up 16.4 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 53.1% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the OVER, with an expected value of $24.67.
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.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
It may be wise to expect worse numbers for the Baltimore Orioles offense going forward, considering that THE BAT X views them as the ninth-luckiest offense in the game this year.
THE BAT ranks Oriole Park at Camden Yards as the seventh-worst venue in the league for home runs.
The wind projects to be blowing in from left field at 8 mph in this matchup, the fourth-most favorable of the day for pitchers.
Civale's 91.7 mph velocity on his fastball this season is a substantial 1.1 mph increase from last year's 90.6 mph mark.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The Orioles have the fifth-best projected offense on the slate in terms of overall offensive skill.
According to the weather report, the temperature and humidity for this contest will be the fourth-most suitable for hitting on the schedule today.