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.
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
Jeffrey Springs (63% rostered in ESPN leagues) has been flying under the fantasy radar for way too long. Dating back to August 1, the southpaw has registered a 2.38 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 over his last 10 starts. Springs doesn't throw particularly hard, averaging just 91.5 mph on his fastball, but he features a devastating changeup that he's been throwing more and more often. In his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays, he featured his changeup 43.4% of the time, while relying on his four-seamer just 26.5% of the time. On Thursday's 10-game slate, Springs matches up with a Cleveland Guardians offense that has been slightly below average over the last month (97 wRC+), putting him in a solid streaming spot.
Speaking of under-the-radar hurlers, Miami's Braxton Garrett falls into that bucket, too. Despite being rostered in just 5% of ESPN leagues, Garrett owns a 3.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 9.2 K/9 in 15 starts this season, which includes a 2.84 ERA over his last 10 outings. He did spend some time on the injured list and in the minors in August and September, but he's still getting the job done when called upon, firing six frames of one-run ball in his last start against the Washington Nationals. Facing a Milwaukee Brewers offense that's been dormant against left-handed pitching all season (87 wRC+, 25.8 K%), Garrett is one of the better streamers on the slate.
Nathan Eovaldi (78%) has been sidelined since mid-August with right shoulder inflammation, but he's set to return to the mound on Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles. The right-hander threw 57 pitches in a rehab start at Triple-A on Saturday, so the expectation is that he'll be held to around 75 pitches in his first start back. Given the pitch limit, it's hard to count on Eovaldi in the fantasy baseball playoffs. Plus, the Orioles have been swinging hot sticks of late, posting a 117 wRC+ over the last two weeks, so it's not necessarily a favorable matchup either.
One member of the Boston Red Sox that is worth starting is rookie slugger Triston Casas (4%). While the 22-year-old has struggled since his big-league promotion in early September, he's starting to turn the corner. Over his last six games, Casas has popped three homers and drawn eight walks. Known for his power and plate discipline, Boston's first baseman of the future is getting hot at the right time for fantasy managers who are trying to clinch a league title.
Louie Varland (1%) is slated to get his third straight start (and fourth overall) for the Minnesota Twins, as he squares off against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. The 24-year-old's results have been mixed so far, but his four-pitch mix, which features a four-seamer that tops out at 96 mph, shows some promise, and he consistently posted high strikeout rates in the minors. At this point in the season, Varland is more of a desperation play in deeper formats, but there's a path for him to find success against the Pale Hose, who have stumbled to an 86 wRC+ over the last two weeks.
Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday
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.
Miguel Rojas (MIA, SS -- 4%) at Lauer
Manuel Margot (TB, RF -- 15%) at Quantrill
Gio Urshela (MIN, 3B -- 24%) vs. Giolito
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Thursday
Randal Grichuk (COL, RF -- 50%) at Rodon
Franmil Reyes (CHC, DH -- 53%) vs. Suarez
Brandon Drury (SD, LF -- 95%) vs. Heaney
The BAT X's Best Stacks for Thursday
THE BAT X is 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.
Eduardo Rodriguez strikeouts: Over/Under 5.5 (+130/-180)
THE BAT sees Rodriguez putting up 5.9 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 52.7% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $21.11.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
The Kansas City Royals (24.5 K%, according to THE BAT X) project to have the fifth-most strikeout-heavy lineup today.
Clint Vondrak projects as a Pitchers Umpire and is expected to be in charge of the strike zone in this game.
Cold weather is strongly correlated with less offense (and more whiffs), and the weather report calls for the lowest temperature of all games on the slate today at 59°.
Rodriguez has relied on his cut-fastball 7.5% more often this year (25.2%) than he did last season (17.7%).
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
Comerica Park projects as the No. 27 field in Major League Baseball for strikeouts, according to THE BAT projection system.
The Kansas City Royals have six batters in the projected batting order that will hold the platoon advantage over Rodriguez today.