Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

Marwin Gonzalez of the Minnesota Twins has been performing well and has an enticing matchup Thursday. Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

There are days when streaming starting pitchers is fun and exciting. You scoop up a couple of hot pitchers in prime matchups and everything works out swimmingly. Then there are days when it feels more like a grind. The available options lack upside, and the matchups aren't particularly enticing. Unfortunately, what we have on Thursday's 10-game slate falls more into the latter category. Rest assured, the Daily Notes staff doesn't take any days off, so let's wade through the muck and see if we can unearth any diamonds in the rough.

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


Pitchers to stream

Trevor Williams (R), rostered in 38 percent of ESPN leagues, Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres: You don't get any upside with Williams. You do, however, get some stability, and sometimes that's more important when you're streaming. The righty doesn't miss many bats (6.6 K/9), but he limits walks (1.6 BB/9) and keeps the ball in the park (0.54 HR/9). Williams has also gone at least six innings in all eight outings this season, collecting six quality starts. The Padres' offense is no longer the pushover it's been in years past, but it's still not a matchup to fear, as they sport a 22nd-ranked 86 wRC+ and a 29th-ranked 26.7 percent strikeout rate against righty pitching this season.

Chris Bassitt (R), 23 percent, Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers: Bassitt has been on a nice run since joining Oakland's rotation, holding a 2.55 ERA across four starts with a dominant 11.3 K/9 rate. It's true that he's benefited from a soft schedule with his past three matchups coming against the Blue Jays, Pirates and Reds, but that soft schedule continues on Thursday with a road tilt against Detroit. The Tigers have been a bottom-rung offense in 2019, ranking 27th in baseball with an ugly 76 wRC+, .284 wOBA, and a 25.7 percent whiff rate. Bassitt should be locked into this prime spot.

Spencer Turnbull (R), 23 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics: Start after start, Turnbull just keeps getting the job done. The right-hander has yet to allow more than three runs in a single start, and he hasn't surrendered more than two runs in five consecutive turns. He's done this while fanning nearly a batter per inning (8.9 K/9). Of course, Turnbull's 3.6 BB/9 is higher than you'd like, and his 3.62 FIP and 4.46 xFIP indicate that his 2.42 ERA isn't sustainable. But that's no reason to scare you off the 26-year-old on Thursday. While the Athletics' high-contact rate limits some of the upside in this matchup, this is a middle-of-the-road offense that's been well below average against righties (88 wRC+).

Lance Lynn (R), 4 percent, Texas Rangers at Kansas City Royals: Lynn has been far from stable this season, demonstrated by his 5.48 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. The good news is that the veteran right-hander has delivered quality starts in two of his past three outings, including a tough road matchup against Houston his last time out. He's also been the victim of some bad luck (.338 BABIP, 68.1 LOB%), suggesting his 5.48 ERA is due for some positive regression. More than anything, though, we're betting on the matchup against a bad Royals team that's lost the most games in the American League. Not only does Kansas City feature a below-average offense, but Lynn gets a substantial park upgrade going to Kauffman Stadium.


With Pedro Strop on the injured list with a strained hamstring, Steve Cishek has slid into the closer role for the Cubs, securing the team's last two save chances. Available in 94 percent of ESPN.com leagues, Cishek figures to stay in the ninth-inning role for at least the short term, and it's possible that he sticks in the role even after Strop returns. After all, Cishek has plenty of closing experience with 127 career saves, and Strop holds a 5.06 ERA in 12 appearances this season.

Projected game scores



Brian McCann (L), 3 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Adam Wainwright): McCann has experienced a small resurgence so far this season. He's batting .311/.389/.508 in 18 games, including a .340/.429/.566 triple slash against righty pitching. Wainwright, meanwhile, has been getting torched by lefty batters (.320/.373/.627).

First base

Rowdy Tellez (L), 2 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago White Sox (RHP Dylan Covey): It's a small sample, but Covey has been brutal this season, holding a 5.91 ERA and a walk rate (8.44 BB/9) that's literally double his strikeout rate (4.22 K/9). Yeah, not good. Tellez gets the platoon advantage and has a good chance to show off his power in the homer-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field.

Second base

Howie Kendrick (R), 9 percent, Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets (RHP Zack Wheeler): After a rough start, Wheeler has turned the corner and presents a tough matchup for Kendrick. Still, the right-hander has actually been hit harder by righties this season, and the 35-year-old Kendrick, who bats in the heart of Washington's order, sports a .295/.373/.541 slash line against righty pitching in 2019.

Third base

Marwin Gonzalez (S), 39 percent, Minnesota Twins at Seattle Mariners (RHP Erik Swanson): Gonzalez is heating up, hitting .349/.440/.512 so far in May, including .381/.500/.667 over the past week. He figures to keep on rolling against Swanson, who has been tagged for seven homers in just 28 1/3 innings.


Ronny Rodriguez (R), 5 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Chris Bassitt): I'm skeptical that Rodriguez can keep this up, but through 20 games he's batting .312/.357/.701 with six dingers and a pair of steals. He's doing it with an impressive 48.3 percent hard-hit rate and a 45.6 percent fly ball rate. Real or not, it's enough to garner attention in fantasy circles. Rodriguez has shown reverse splits with a 1.077 OPS versus righties, which puts him in play against Bassitt on Thursday.

Corner infield

Dan Vogelbach (L), 43 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Michael Pineda): Pineda has been more like a pinata this season. He's allowed 10 homers and holds a 5.85 ERA across eight starts. This looks like a prime spot for Vogelbach, who owns a 1.055 OPS versus righties this season.

Middle infield

Jason Kipnis (L), 6 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Dylan Bundy): There are certain hurlers I want exposure against whenever they take the mound. Bundy is one of them. He has followed up last season's 5.45 ERA with a 5.31 clip so far, and he's on pace to allow a whopping 45 homers. Kipnis is off to a sluggish start, but this is a good opportunity for him to get going.


Jorge Soler (R), 26 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Lance Lynn): We highlighted Lynn as a potential streaming option above, but he also carries plenty of volatility. He's been hit hard by righties this season (.296/.355/.520), and Soler has popped eight of his 10 homers this season against right-handed pitchers.

Hunter Pence (R), 27 percent, Texas Rangers at Kansas City Royals (RHP Homer Bailey): Is it time we started taking Pence seriously? I think it might be. The 36-year-old Pence altered his swing mechanics over the offseason and is hitting .298/.368/.619 with seven homers in 27 games. Because there was an actual change in Pence's swing, we don't have to simply write this off as a hot streak. It's possible that it's sustainable. It should be all systems go against Bailey, who is surrendering a .313/.363/.434 triple slash to righty batters in 2019.

Melky Cabrera (S), 4 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres (LHP Eric Lauer): Cabrera just continues to rake. After batting .338/.363/.519 in April, he's batting .321/.406/.393 in May. The switch-hitting Cabrera is doing most of his damage against southpaws (.351/.368/.541), which matches him up well against Lauer and his 5.75 ERA.

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).