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
The only explanation for Cole Ragans still being available in more than 50% of ESPN leagues is that a large swath of fantasy baseball managers has simply stopped paying attention. Take advantage and grab the left-hander for his favorable matchup Thursday against the Detroit Tigers. Since being acquired by the Kansas City Royals, all Ragans has done is post a 2.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 across 11 starts -- with multiple double-digit strikeout efforts. Against a Detroit lineup that has a bloated 26.8% K% over the last month to go along with a well below average 86 wRC+, Ragans is Thursday's top streaming option.
Opposing Ragans and the Royals on Thursday is Sawyer Gipson-Long (13% rostered), another quality streamer. While the 25-year-old righty has only three big league starts under his belt, he has asserted himself quite well. Gipson-Long owns a 2.40 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 15 innings while fanning 20. The young right-hander doesn't throw particularly hard, averaging 93 mph on his heater, but he generates lots of swings and misses with his slider and changeup. Gipson-Long should continue his success Thursday against a Kansas City offense that has been middle of the road in the second half.
While David Peterson (4%) has struggled with his start-to-start consistency, he has been consistent in racking up Ks, piling up seven or more strikeouts in four of his last five outings. On Thursday, he matches up with the Miami Marlins, who have been swinging hot sticks over the last two weeks. That presents some ratio risk for the New York Mets left-hander, but if you're seeking Ks in your final push for the championship, Peterson carries some appeal.
Dakota Hudson has managed to get through his last couple of starts relatively unscathed, but that's unlikely to continue Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers. With a 4.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 this season, he has zero margin for error, and his 45.8% hard-hit rate allowed highlights his blowup potential. When Hudson travels to hitter-friendly American Family Field on Thursday, Willy Adames (68%), Carlos Santana (24%), Mark Canha (15%), and Sal Frelick (8%) are all on the streaming radar.
One of the more underappreciated players in fantasy baseball, Nolan Jones (38%) finishes out the remainder of the 2023 season at Coors Field. He bas been a top-10 fantasy hitter over the last month, batting .333/.465/.667 with five home runs, 16 RBIs, 19 runs and nine stolen bases. An across-the-board fantasy producer, Jones can provide help wherever you need it during the season's final days.
Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday
Bullpen usage watch for Thursday
By Todd Zola
Appearing for the first time in over a week, Paul Sewald preserved the Arizona Diamondbacks' 3-0 shutout of the Chicago White Sox with a scoreless ninth inning, tossing 20 pitches in the process. A pitch count that high often signals an off day, but with the Diamondbacks in a tight wild-card race and Sewald pitching with seven days of rest, he'll be available for today's matinee when the Diamondbacks wrap up their road series against the White Sox.
With only one closer flagged for potential usage issues today, let's pivot to relievers likely available to fill roster holes created by the lighter 11-game schedule. Starting in Motown, the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals will first complete their suspended game from last night, then play their regularly scheduled affair. If a save is recorded in the suspended game, it gets credited to fantasy teams with the pitcher active yesterday. There is no added benefit to adding Royals and Tigers today; they'll only accrue points for the regularly scheduled game. The question is whether either primary closer will be called upon twice today, or will duties be split? The answer is unclear. as there is no reason for either team to overextend their players with nothing on the line. Another consideration is that the Tigers have a 4-0 lead after four innings, in what will no doubt be a bullpen game for the duration. The respective managers may be forced to double-up on some of their bullpen arms. It will take a big comeback from the Royals for closer James McArthur to pitch in the suspended game, so he's the logical choice from Kansas City, hoping he closes the regular game. Already with a 4-0 lead, the Tigers may not generate a save situation in the suspended game, leaving Alex Lange available for the regular affair. But he may be needed, setting up Jason Foley to close, but Foley may have also pitched earlier. Picking up both Foley and Lange is optimal, but if there is roster space for only one, Lange is the call, hoping he isn't needed early, or is needed twice.
The scenario with the Minnesota Twins is far less complicated. There is still a mathematical chance for the club to capture a first-round bye, so they won't hesitate to use closer Jhoan Duran in back to back fashion. He earned a save last night. but required only 14 pitches, and he was appearing after four days of rest.
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.
Ezequiel Tovar (COL, SS -- 12%) vs. Yarbrough
Elias Diaz (COL, C -- 32%) vs. Yarbrough
Nolan Jones (COL, RF -- 38%) vs. Yarbrough
Jason Heyward (LAD, CF -- 1%) at Flexen
Hunter Goodman (COL, 1B -- 1%) vs. Yarbrough
James Outman (LAD, LF -- 25%) at Flexen
Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Thursday
Brandon Nimmo (NYM, CF -- 87%) vs. Luzardo
Anthony Santander (BAL, RF -- 91%) vs. Sale
Nathaniel Lowe (TEX, 1B -- 87%) at Gilbert
Josh Bell (MIA, 1B -- 60%) at Peterson
Ryan Mountcastle (BAL, 1B -- 51%) vs. Sale
The Bat X's Best Stacks for Thursday
Los Angeles Dodgers at Chris Flexen
Colorado Rockies vs. Ryan Yarbrough
Prop of the Day
Ryan Yarbrough, Dodgers: Over/Under 2.5 earned runs (+100/-130)
THE BAT sees Yarbrough putting up 3.38 earned runs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 61.1% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the OVER, with an expected value of $22.10.
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 Rockies have been the unluckiest offense in the game this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to positively regress going forward.
Coors Field is the No. 1 field in baseball for boosting batting average, according to THE BAT.
The weather forecast is the most favorable for hitting conditions of all games today.
The Rockies have eight bats in the projected lineup that will have the benefit of the platoon advantage against Yarbrough.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The Rockies have the worst projected batting order on the slate today, in terms of overall batting skills.
The wind projects to be blowing in from right field at 8.7 mph in this contest, the third-best of the day for pitchers.