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
Quality pitching streamers are hard to come by on Thursday's seven-game slate, but the Cleveland Guardians' Tanner Bibee (21% rostered in ESPN leagues) stands out at the best option available. Since being promoted from Triple-A, the 24-year-old boasts a 2.88 ERA and 1.08 WHIP across six starts with a strong walk rate (2.4 BB/9) and nearly a K per inning (8.9 K/9). Bibee has also delivered three straight quality starts, including a six-inning, one-run effort his last time out against the St. Louis Cardinals in which he fanned nine and walked only one. Fire him up on Thursday against a Minnesota Twins lineup that sports an MLB-worst 28.1% strikeout rate over the last 30 days.
Because the starting pitching streamers are scarce on Thursday, it might be wise to instead focus on pitchers who could net you a hold. Hector Neris (6% rostered), Chris Martin (1%), Bryan Abreu (19%) and Jovani Moran (0%) all rank among MLB's holds leaders over the last month, and all are widely available. Neris should be your top target, as he's tossed 11 1/3 scoreless innings over the last 30 days while racking up 15 Ks, eight holds and a save.
Royce Lewis is currently rostered in only 12% of ESPN leagues, but that number should rise quickly. Once considered one of the top prospects in baseball (and still considered one by many outlets), Lewis was activated from the injured list Monday after working his way back from his second torn ACL in the last two years. The former No. 1 overall pick carries five-category potential, and he has already made his presence felt in the Twins lineup, going 3-for-9 with a homer, a double and four RBIs in his first two games. Based on his upside, Lewis is worth a look, even in shallower leagues.
Our two lowest-ranked hurlers of the day -- Zach Davies and Chase Anderson -- are set to square off against each other, making this an easy game to stack. For the Colorado Rockies, Charlie Blackmon (24%), Jurickson Profar (11%) and Nolan Jones (1%) all carry the platoon edge against Davies. On the Arizona Diamondbacks' side, Jake McCarthy (16%), Josh Rojas (12%), Geraldo Perdomo (15%) and Pavin Smith (1%) get the platoon advantage.
Fantasy managers have been slow to catch on, but Francisco Alvarez (19%) has begun to establish himself as a legit fantasy force behind the plate. Over his last 17 games, he's batting .322/.403/.763 with seven homers, five doubles and 15 RBIs. Even more important is the fact that he's playing every day for the New York Mets, drawing starts at catcher in each of the team's last six games. Against Taijuan Walker, who has surrendered a .312/.358/.486 slash line to opposing batters in May, Alvarez is a top-notch play on Thursday.
Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday
Bullpen usage watch for Thursday
By Todd Zola
David Robertson has 10 saves, with the last pair coming Tuesday and Wednesday. Last night, Robertson reached double digits with a 22-pitch outing, making it 38 over the previous two days. Robertson pitched on three straight days earlier in the month, but it was after accumulating just 28 pitches in the first two games. Furthermore, Thursday's contest is a 1:10 p.m. ET matinee, affording less of a turnaround time, so Robertson will likely get the afternoon off. The catch is co-closer Adam Ottavino has also pitched in the last two games, though he threw just 17 combined pitches, including only six last night. In addition, Brooks Raley recorded four outs last night, hurling 23 pitches in the process. Ideally, the Mets get a big lead for Max Scherzer, but in the event of a close game, late inning duties could fall to Drew Smith and Jeff Brigham.
Emmanuel Clase has also worked the last two days. On Tuesday night, Clase pitched the eighth with the Guardians down by three runs. He hadn't pitched since Friday, so manager Terry Francona opted to get his closer some work. Last night, Francona summoned Clase to protect a four-run lead in Baltimore. Clase pitched a scoreless frame each time, using an efficient 21 pitches. Logic dictates Francona would not have used Clase with a four-run lead if he wasn't comfortable using the saves leader on three consecutive days. However, there is no precedent for Clase working three days in a row, but he only tallied nine pitches yesterday. The safe play is picking up James Karinchak, but it's not a no-brainer to reserve Clase.
Devin Williams collected his ninth save last night, throwing 15 pitches in the process. That's enough to flag him for questionable availability, but Williams previously pitched on Sunday and there is precedent for Williams to be summoned for back-to-back appearances.
The Astros, Red Sox and Padres head the list of teams we project to with the best chance to win over the next three days. All have primary closers, but their setup men should be busy. Hector Neris and Bryan Abreu are the main targets for Houston. Chris Martin and Josh Winckowski are the holds leaders for Boston. Steven Wilson and Tim Hill comprise the bridge to Padres closer Josh Hader.
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.
Ryan McMahon (COL, 3B -- 20%) at Davies
Jake McCarthy (ARI, RF -- 17%) vs. Anderson
Jarren Duran (BOS, CF -- 11%) vs. Greene
Max Kepler (MIN, RF -- 3%) vs. Bibee
Enrique Hernandez (BOS, CF -- 8%) vs. Greene
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Thursday
Nick Castellanos (PHI, RF -- 86%) at Scherzer
Taylor Ward (LAA, RF -- 59%) at Valdez
Mike Trout (LAA, CF -- 100%) at Valdez
Trea Turner (PHI, SS -- 98%) at Scherzer
Elias Diaz (COL, C -- 51%) at Davies
The Bat X's Best Stacks for Thursday
Prop of the Day
Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds: Greene's strikeouts prop is 6.5 (-105/-125).
THE BAT sees putting up 5.0 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 26.4% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $40.66.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER:
When estimating his strikeout skill according to THE BAT, Greene is projected to be the sixth-best pitcher in the majors.
With his assigned duty behind the plate today, Jim Wolf is considered a valuable asset as a pitcher's umpire.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER:
The Red Sox (20.4 K%, per THE BAT X) are projected to have the second-least strikeout-prone team of batters today.
Fenway Park grades out as the No. 25 park in MLB for strikeouts, per THE BAT projection system.
A correlation exists between high heat and more offense (and fewer whiffs), and this game is expected to have the hottest weather of all games on the slate today at 83 degrees.
The wind projects to be blowing out to LF at 8.1 mph in this game, the best of the day for batters.