<
>

Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

Aaron Sanchez has been able to overcome his problem with walks so far in 2019. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Another Thursday, another shortened slate. You all should know the drill by now. This Thursday gives us an eight-game slate with only two games being played at night, which isn't ideal for DFS. Fortunately, there are still multiple arms and plenty of bats worth considering for streaming purposes.

Here's a look at the day's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

Pitching

Tyler Skaggs (L), rostered in 48 percent of ESPN leagues, Los Angeles Angels vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Skaggs tossed five shutout frames against the Royals in his first start back on the IL, and he gets another favorable matchup on Thursday against a Blue Jays team that's scored the third-fewest runs in the American League behind only the Tigers and Indians. The Jays have also been particularly anemic against left-handed pitching, sporting a 79 wRC+ and 24.6 percent strikeout rate. Over four starts this season, Skaggs owns a 3.15 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning. His rostered percentage figures to creep back over the 50 percent mark with a strong outing here.

Aaron Sanchez (R), 21 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels: Opposing Skaggs on Thursday is Sanchez, who sports a 2.32 ERA across six starts. He's actually been rather fortunate to post such a low ERA, as his 5.8 BB/9 is rather alarming. That said, the Toronto righty continues to generate plenty of grounders and misses enough bats to not hurt you. In the pitcher-friendly Angels Ballpark, Sanchez makes for a fine streamer against a middle-of-the-road Angels offense.

Matt Strahm (L), 21 percent, San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves: Since getting roughed up by the Diamondbacks in his season debut (5 ER in 2 2/3 IP), Strahm has made four straight starts without allowing more than two earned runs. On the season, he holds a 3.04 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. While the 7.1 K/9 is disappointing and can likely be attributed to his dip in velocity from last season, Strahm is showing terrific control (1.7 BB/9). Thursday's matchup is far from ideal, as the Braves are very hard on lefties. However, the southpaw pitched effectively against an equally tough Nationals lineup his last time out (2 ER in 6 IP), so we'll give him benefit of the doubt here, too.

Freddy Peralta (R), 7 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Colorado Rockies: Peralta will rejoin Milwaukee's rotation after missing the past two weeks with shoulder inflammation. The right-hander's ERA may sit at an ugly 7.13, but there's strikeout upside here if you need some extra whiffs in your head-to-head matchup. Armed with an 11.2 K/9 rate, the Peralta draws an enticing matchup against a Rockies team that sports a 59 wRC+ and 27 percent strikeout rate away from Coors Field. Miller Park is still a favorable hitting environment, but the strikeout upside makes Peralta appealing enough for streamer consideration.

Bullpen

The closer situation in Tampa Bay is becoming more and more muddled. Jose Alvarado was initially thought to be the go-to guy in the ninth inning, but he hasn't saved a game since April 7. Emilio Pagan had closed out the Rays' previous three games before Diego Castillo got the call on Sunday against Boston and nailed down 5-2 victory. It appears that manager Kevin Cash is content mixing and matching for now, which makes things difficult for fantasy purposes. Still, for those fantasy owners wanting to speculate, both Castillo and Pagan are available in at least 87 percent of ESPN leagues.

Projected game scores

Hitting

Catcher

Tyler Flowers (R), 3 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Matt Strahm): Flowers is batting .346/.414/.558 in 15 games in 2019 and sports a .292/.432/.462 triple slash against lefties over the last three seasons. He makes for an easy plug-and-play option at a weak position whenever there is a southpaw on the mound.

First Base

Eric Thames (L), 8 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Jon Gray): Thames has been getting more at-bats with Jesus Aguilar getting off to such a slow start, and he's made the most of them, batting .288/.367/.596 with five homers across 52 at-bats. Whether at first base or in the outfield, there's a good chance Thames is in the lineup Thursday against Gray, who's allowing a .371 wOBA to lefty batters.

Second Base

Ryan McMahon (L), 12 percent, Colorado Rockies at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Freddy Peralta): This game doesn't take place at Coors Field, but Miller Park is still an elite venue for left-handed power, which will suit McMahon just fine. He gets the platoon advantage against Peralta, who is allowing tons of fly balls (52.9 percent) and can't seem to keep them in the park (2.6 HR/9).

Third Base

Yandy Diaz (R), 46 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals (LHP Danny Duffy): Frankly, it's surprising that Diaz's rostered percentage still comes in under the 50 percent threshold. He's batting .298/.395/.596 with seven homers and nearly as many walks (17) as strikeouts (20). Diaz is pummeling lefty pitching this season (.360/.500/.720), putting him in an enticing spot against the southpaw Duffy.

Shortstop

Carter Kieboom (R), 17 percent, Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Dakota Hudson): Kieboom, a former first-round pick, has already popped a pair of homers since being called up last week, and on Thursday he matches up with fellow rookie Dakota Hudson. Hudson has been tattooed away from Busch Stadium this season (9 ER in 8 2/3 IP), and he's allowed a whopping eight homers in just six games (five starts).

Corner Infield

Matt Adams (L), 1 percent, Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Dakota Hudson): Adams is getting everyday at-bats with Ryan Zimmerman sidelined, and he's proven he can be fantasy viable against righty pitching. In 2018, he blasted 20 homers in just 265 at-bats against righties. He'll look to tee off against Hudson, who has surrendered seven homers in just 11 2/3 innings against left-handed batters this season.

Middle Infield

Tommy La Stella (L), 15 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Aaron Sanchez): We're not sure what's gotten into La Stella, but we're not complaining. Over the last two weeks, he's batting .306/.390/.639 with four homers and 10 RBIs. He's done all of his damage this season against righty pitching, and he squares off against another righty on Thursday.

Outfield

Scott Schebler (L), 2 percent, Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets (RHP Noah Syndergaard): Syndergaard normally isn't a pitcher we want to attack, but, well, Thor has been far from heroic of late. He's surrendered at least four earned runs in six of seven starts this season, culminating in a 6.35 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. Syndergaard is allowing a .309/.367/.455 slash line to lefty batters, and Schebler has plenty of pop against righties with a career .211 ISO.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (L), 40 percent, Boston Red Sox at Chicago White Sox (RHP Lucas Giolito): Giolito is set to rejoin the White Sox's rotation after missing time with a hamstring injury. He's been hit hard this season (5.30 ERA in four starts), especially at home (6.43 ERA). Bradley Jr. has had trouble getting going, but he's in a nice spot here, as he gets the platoon advantage in a favorable park against a volatile starter.

Leury Garcia (S), 9 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox (LHP David Price): Garcia doesn't bring much upside to the table, but he's still been a sneaky fantasy option this season. Batting atop the White Sox's lineup, he's on pace for well over 100 runs scored and 25 stolen bases. David Price is a tough customer, but the switch-hitting Garcia is batting .300 with a .364 OBP against lefties.

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).