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.
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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
It doesn't show up in his 4.99 ERA, but JP Sears (2% rostered in ESPN leagues) is doing some interesting things. With a 9.4 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 this season, Sears sports a 5.1 K/BB ratio, which ranks 11th in MLB among qualified pitchers. He has also held opponents to two or fewer earned runs in three of his last four starts, including six innings of two-run ball against the Houston Astros his last time out. Of course, you can't count on a win from any Oakland A's pitcher, but Thursday the southpaw gets to face a Seattle Mariners lineup that has struggled against left-handed pitching this season, producing an 89 wRC+ with a 26.7% strikeout rate. On a day that's lacking numerous pitching streamers, Sears definitely belongs in the conversation.
After a rough start to the season that saw Miles Mikolas (24% rostered) dropped in a lot of leagues, the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander has seemingly turned a corner. Over his last five turns, Mikolas holds a 2.45 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, allowing three or fewer runs in each outing. Now he gets a favorable draw against the Cincinnati Reds, who own the third-worst wRC+ (83) in baseball during the month of May, along with the fifth-worst strikeout rate (25.1%). Great American Ballpark can be a tough place to pitch, but Mikolas remains a good bet to pick up a victory in front of a Cardinals lineup that leads baseball with 127 runs this month.
Michael Conforto (8%) sports a disappointing .213/.321/.418 slash line on the year, but the last 11 games have seen him find his power stroke. He is hitting .325/.378/.725 while launching five home runs with 12 RBIs over that span. On Thursday, the hot-hitting slugger trades in the cavernous Oracle Park for American Family Field, one of the best parks in the majors for left-handed power, so we could very well witness some more fireworks.
On a shortened slate when you have multiple lineup spots to fill, sometimes the easiest path is simply rostering hitters in Coors Field. With Kyle Freeland on the hill for the Colorado Rockies, the Miami Marlins will have a slew of players enjoying the platoon advantage. The top target is Jorge Soler (19%), who holds a .406/.513/1.125 triple slash versus lefties this season. Garrett Cooper (3%), Bryan De La Cruz (8%) and Jon Berti (4%) are also intriguing options with the platoon edge in this matchup.
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Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday
Bullpen usage watch for Thursday
By Todd Zola
As expected, the Orioles gave Yennier Cano Wednesday night off with Danny Coulombe serving as the bridge to Felix Bautista, who collected his 12th save in Baltimore's 9-6 win in the Bronx. However, Bautista has now pitched on consecutive days, so he'll likely sit out Thursday with Cano rested for ninth-inning duties. Coulombe tossed 22 pitches, so setup responsibilities should fall to Bryan Baker and Cionel Perez.
With the Braves and Dodgers tied 5-5 after eight innings, Raisel Iglesias was brought in to keep it that way in the ninth. He managed to do so, but he also allowed a hit and a walk, driving his pitch count to 20. Atlanta walked it off in the bottom of the frame, earning Iglesias the win. Since he hadn't worked since Sunday, and only needed 13 pitches in that contest, Iglesias should be available for tonight's opener against the Phillies.
The Mariners continue to be a bullpen to target based on upcoming matchups as they wrap up a series with Oakland today, followed by a home set with the Pirates. Paul Sewald continues to be available in a tad over one-third of all ESPN leagues, so it's worth checking on his availability. Justin Topa. Trevor Gott, Gabe Speier and Matt Brash comprise a solid set of setup men, all capable of contributing fantasy points.
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.
Elias Diaz (COL, C -- 36%) vs. Garrett
Yuli Gurriel (MIA, 1B -- 1%) at Freeland
Jurickson Profar (COL, LF -- 11%) vs. Garrett
Michael Conforto (SF, RF -- 9%) at Teheran
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Thursday
Gunnar Henderson (BAL, 3B -- 55%) at Schmidt
Ozzie Albies (ATL, 2B -- 99%) vs. Nola
Jarred Kelenic (SEA, CF -- 50%) vs. Sears
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Thursday
Prop of the Day
Blake Snell, Padres, 16.5 pitching outs (-110/-125)
THE BAT X sees Snell putting up 18.9 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 66.1% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $28.88.
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
The projected batting order for the Nationals grades out as the third-worst of all teams on the slate today.
The Nationals have been the fifth-luckiest offense in the game this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to negatively regress the rest of the season
THE BAT X projection system ranks Nationals Park as the No. 25 ballpark in MLB for batting average.
The wind projects to be blowing in from center at 8.1 mph in this game, the second-strongest of the day for hurlers.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The weather report forecasts the fifth-most suitable hitting weather of the day, as it relates to temperature and humidity.
Snell's fastball velocity has fallen 1.3 mph this year (94 mph) below where it was last season (95.3 mph).