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MLB daily notes: Fantasy rankings for Thursday

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In an effort to serve daily fantasy players and season-long fantasy players who use daily lineup settings, we present daily notes each day of the season. It's a daily version of our Fantasy Forecaster in which we project the best pitcher game scores as well as the best team-hitting matchups based upon a number of factors.


Pitching

Elite

Thursday's crummy slate got a little better after last night's Milwaukee Brewers tussle with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field was rained out, pushing Jake Arrieta to Thursday's early slate. As well as Mr. No Hitter has pitched, his current 7.6 K/9 is below the batter-an-inning level he's displayed the past couple of seasons. Expect that mark to head north as the Brew Crew are whiffing at a 26 percent clip against right-handers. Arrieta is by far the jewel of the afternoon set.

Jose Fernandez draws a road start against the Dodgers. The matchup may not be ideal, though the Dodgers' offense has been fairly middle-of-the-road. The concerns are that Fernandez has yet to make it past the sixth inning this season and his control (4.4 BB/9) has been an issue. Of course, that 12.7 K/9 rate can cover many warts. On such a short late slate, you'll be hard-pressed to find a safer option for your cash games.

Solid

If you fade Fernandez in the late slate, it's probably because of his opponent, Kenta Maeda, who has been unhittable thus far. Through four starts, the right-hander has allowed only one run while sporting a 4.6 K/BB ratio and generating 50 percent ground balls. Although the Marlins make a good amount of contact, they've been well-below average against righty pitching this season. Regression is coming for Maeda, but it probably won't come in this matchup.

Aaron Nola's 4.50 ERA may stick out, but ignore that and instead look at the 10.4 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 2.85 FIP. He'll take those peripherals into a road tilt against the Nationals. The Nats are no slouch offensively, and it's worth noting that Bryce Harper & Co. hammered Nola for seven runs in five innings earlier this month. Still, the skills are strong and, let's face it, the pickings are slim. Only eight pitchers are available in the early slate, and Nola is one of the stronger ones.

After racking up 15 whiffs in seven shutout innings against Minnesota the last time out, Tanner Roark figures to be a popular option in Thursday's early slate. And the home matchup against the Phillies, who are whiffing at a 24 percent clip with a .301 wOBA against right-handed pitching, supports it. Don't expect another double-digit K outing (he struck out nine in his previous three starts combined, after all), but he should still generate at least a handful of whiffs against this weak lineup.

It's been a rough start to the season for Anibal Sanchez. He's failed to register a quality start in four outings and has surrendered 12 runs during his last 7 1/3 frames. That's enough to keep him away from my cash-game lineups. On the bright side, Sanchez is still missing bats and the A's have been dreadful versus righties this season (.291 wOBA). Then again, the A's sport the second-lowest whiff rate in the American League (18.8 percent), so the strikeout ceiling is limited.

Streamers

With so few games on tap, the streaming options are slim. Clay Buchholz, available in 83 percent of ESPN.com leagues, has done little to earn a fantasy owner's trust, allowing five runs in three of his four starts this season. Of course, Atlanta's lineup is probably the worst in baseball. Through 20 games, the Braves have four wins and three home runs. If you can't use Buchholz here, when can you?

Chris Bassitt and Rubby de la Rosa are both widely available in ESPN.com leagues. Both have shown some good things at times, but given their unfavorable matchups, it's hard to take a chance on either outside of deep leagues.

Avoid

It's hard to find the DFS appeal for Michael Wacha, who has a road matchup against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Despite a 2.82 ERA, he owns a 1.43 WHIP, is allowing a .328 batting average to right-handed batters and he's not missing enough bats (6.0 K/9) to bring any real upside to the table. Wacha might have some SP2 appeal in home matchups against weak opponents, but there's just not enough to like here against a D-backs team that owns a .367 wOBA and .221 ISO at home this season.

Juan Nicasio has shown some flashes this season, but he's been inconsistent overall. In a favorable matchup at home, he might be worth taking a chance on. In a road start at Coors Field? No thanks.


Hitting

It goes without saying, but you'll want some Coors Field exposure in your cash games, as both Tyler Chatwood and Nicasio are likely in for long afternoons.

I'm starting to feel like a broken record, but target right-handed bats against lefty John Danks. With Baltimore on tap, there are a multitude of intriguing options, with Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo leading the way.

Jhoulys Chacin has pitched well this year, but it's hard to ignore his history of struggles against left-handed hitting. David Ortiz is obviously the most appealing play here, though Travis Shaw and Brock Holt could be cost-effective options depending on where they're batting in the lineup.

Zach Davies has been hit hard in both starts this year, and the Cubs certainly aren't going to go easy on him Thursday. The lefty bats are the most appealing, but given how ineffective Davies has been in the early going, all Cubs bats are in play here.

Most likely to go yard: Manny Machado

There are multiple Baltimore bats I could go with here, but I'll put my money on Machado going yard against Danks, who owns a 53 percent fly ball rate this season.

Most likely to swipe a bag: Jonathan Villar

While Jon Lester famously has issues holding runners, Arrieta isn't much better as he's been on the hill for 52 successful swipes since joining the Cubs in 2014. Getting on won't be easy, but if he does, look for Villar to have the green light.