We've had worse Thursday slates this season. We've also had much, much better.
While quality pickings might be slim on the pitching side, that means there are plenty of low-end hurlers who present favorable hitting matchups. Let's take a closer look at what Thursday's 10-game slate has to offer.
Pitchers to stream
Chad Kuhl (R), rostered in 15 percent of ESPN leagues, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. San Diego Padres: Leading us off on Thursday is Kuhl, who owns a 3.34 ERA and 8.8 K/9 in his past five starts. He also sports a 2.84 ERA in his past 57 innings at PNC Park. That puts him in an appealing spot against the Padres, a team that ranks near the bottom in nearly every category against right-handed pitching. The Padres rank 26th in wRC+ (82), 29th in wOBA (.286), 29th in ISO (.117), and 29th in strikeout percentage (27 percent). Look for the Pittsburgh righty to stay on a roll in this favorable matchup.
Matthew Boyd (L), 14 percent, Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners: Boyd hasn't made much noise in fantasy circles because of his lackluster strikeout rate (6.9 K/9). There's still plenty to like here, however. The left-hander has delivered a quality start in five of his seven starts; he's gone three straight starts without allowing a home run; and his 24.4 percent soft-contact rate ranks in the top five in the American League. The matchup against Seattle isn't ideal, as the Mariners have done plenty of damage against lefties this season (118 wRC+), but the absence of the injured (and now suspended) Robinson Cano helps Boyd's cause.
While we can spend more digital ink discussing the ninth-inning situations in St. Louis and Anaheim, there's a widely available closer in Oakland who deserves more attention than he's getting. Available in nearly 40 percent of leagues, Blake Treinen has been a top-15 closer this season, according to the ESPN Player Rater. In 19 1/3 innings, he sports a 1.33 ERA and 9.8 K/9 to go along with eight saves. If you're in the saves market, there's no reason to speculate elsewhere if Treinen is still hanging on your league's waiver wire.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The "*" symbol means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
James McCann (R), 28 percent, Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales): McCann remains one of my favorite plug-and-play options whenever a lefty is on the mound. After batting .298/.371/.558 against southpaws in 2017, he's hitting .310/.412/.586 against them this season. While Gonzales sports an impressive 5.1 K/BB ratio this season, he's allowing a .336/.370/.503 slash line to right-handed batters. What's sad is that's actually an improvement over last season (.349/.388/.566).
Justin Bour (L), 46 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (RHP Kenta Maeda): Bour is smashing righties this season. He boasts a .316 ISO versus right-handed pitching, including a .300/.378/.552 slash line. This isn't anything new either, as Bour posted a .384 wOBA against righty pitching last season, which ranked in the top 25 in baseball, ahead of fellow lefty sluggers Cody Bellinger and Anthony Rizzo. Maeda, meanwhile, has allowed 19 runs in his past 30 innings (5.70 ERA), including a .313/.360/.513 slash line to lefty batters.
Rougned Odor (L), 49 percent, Texas Rangers at Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): Shields is toeing the rubber for the White Sox on Thursday. That really should be all you need to know to get some exposure to some Rangers bats. The veteran righty holds a 5.44 ERA across eight starts this season with a 5.2 K/9, which is not much better than his 4.1 BB/9. This is a great opportunity for Odor to get going after returning from the DL late last week.
Luis Valbuena (L), 6 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Chris Archer): A matchup against Archer used to be a spot to avoid, but that's not the case right now. The righty sports a 5.64 ERA and 1.41 WHIP this season, and much of that damage has come from lefty bats (.313/.373/.525). Since the beginning of last season, Archer has allowed a 40 percent hard-hit rate, the highest rate in baseball among qualified pitchers. Valbuena hasn't done much offensively this season, but he produced a .237 ISO versus righties from 2015-17. A matchup like this against a struggling pitcher could be just what he needs to jump-start the engine.
Jordy Mercer (R), 2 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Eric Lauer): The sample size is small, but it's hard to ignore the fact that Lauer has allowed a .483 wOBA, including five homers, in 13 1/3 innings against right-handed batters this season. While Mercer isn't a high-upside bat, he's still a .291/.357/.453 career hitter against righties.
Mitch Moreland (L), 24 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Kevin Gausman): Moreland isn't necessarily one of the Boston bats who gets a lot of attention, but all he's done this season is hit. During the past 22 games, he's batting .360/.430/.680 with 6 homers, 6 doubles and 19 RBIs. This includes a .328/.395/.642 slash line versus righties. Needless to say, Moreland is in a nice spot against Gausman, who has had difficulty with lefties in the past.
Brandon Crawford (L), 14 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Chad Bettis): In March and April, Crawford stumbled out of the gate with a .187/.237/.300 slash line. May has been a different story. In 13 May games, the veteran shortstop is batting .412/.429/.588. Bettis has pitched very well away from Coors Field this season, but I'll still take a shot on the hot-hitting Crawford with the platoon advantage.
Matt Joyce (L), 3 percent, Oakland Athletics at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Aaron Sanchez): Left-handed batters have been a big issue for Sanchez this season, demonstrated by their .310/.426/.476 slash line against him. This puts Thursday's matchup right in Joyce's wheelhouse. Over the past three seasons, 92 of his 100 extra-base hits have come against right-handed pitching. Joyce also usually slots into the leadoff spot when a righty is on the mound, giving him added opportunity to put up numbers.
David Dahl (L), 12 percent, Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants (RHP Jeff Samardzija): Samardzija will surely figure things out eventually. Until then, fantasy managers should take advantage. The right-hander has allowed five or more runs in three of his past four starts, leading to an ugly 6.94 ERA. Frankly, it's hard to find any positives, as his strikeout rate is way down (7.7 K/9), his walk rate has skyrocketed (5.8 BB/9) and he's allowing more fly balls than ever (46.5 percent). Dahl would be worth considering even in a tough matchup, much less a favorable one like this. The young outfielder is batting .400/.475/.657 against righties this season, and he's not just a product of Coors Field, as he owns a .291/.336/.493 slash line in 40 career road games.
Guillermo Heredia (R), 1 percent, Seattle Mariners (LHP Matthew Boyd): It's still unclear how the Mariners plan to handle the extended absence of Robinson Cano. Initially, they indicated moving Dee Gordon to the infield wasn't a consideration, but they nevertheless have had him taking grounders at second base. For the time being, Gordon remains in center. If he moves to the keystone, Heredia could be in line for more playing time. For now, he remains on the lesser side of a platoon with Ben Gamel, so he'll be in the lineup Thursday against the lefty-tossing Boyd.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.