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Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday brings us yet another short slate, this one of the 10-game variety. In terms of exciting matchups, we've got the Red Sox heading to Yankee Stadium for a four-game set. In the not-so-exciting category, we've got the two worst teams in the National League, the Marlins and Giants, battling it out to determine which team truly belongs in the NL cellar. It will be a sight to behold.

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

Starters

Felix Pena (R), rostered in 4 percent of ESPN leagues, Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners: Why is a pitcher with a 2.73 ERA and an 0.84 WHIP, with 26 strikeouts to just two walks over his last five outings spanning 26 1/3 innings, be available in just about every ESPN league? Those are Pena's numbers as a "primary pitcher" since April 24. He was also needed for a frame in extra innings on May 26, where all he did was punch out the side. On Thursday, Pena draws a Mariners team that sports a 23rd-ranked .301 wOBA along with a 26 percent strikeout rate, third-highest in baseball.

Jerad Eickhoff (R), 28 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Some recent gopheritis has derailed Eickhoff's promising start to the season. The right-hander has surrendered seven long balls over his past three starts, failing to make it past the fifth inning in any of them. Eickhoff found success early on by using his slider more and relying less on his fastball, so the hope is that that formula can help him get back on track. He could do just that against a struggling Cardinals team that's put up an 89 wRC+ in May. In fact, when Eickhoff faced the Cardinals earlier this month, the result was eight shutout innings.

Chase Anderson (R), 3 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates: Also getting a favorable matchup is Anderson, who has a date with a Pirates club that doesn't match up well with right-handed pitching, demonstrated by a 91 wRC+ and .307 wOBA. Anderson has made only four starts this season and can't be trusted to pitch deep into the game. Still, he sports a 2.55 ERA in those four starts with nearly a strikeout per inning. He also gets a significant park upgrade on Thursday, trading in Miller Park for the pitcher-friendly PNC Park.

Dakota Hudson (R), 4 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies: Heading to Philadelphia to face the Phillies is admittedly a tough spot for Hudson. While the young right-hander's peripherals don't paint a particularly strong picture, he's finding a way to make it work. Hudson has allowed three or fewer earned runs in seven straight outings, and his 61.8 percent ground ball rate is tops in baseball. There's definitely risk here, but he's worth a look on a short slate where options are limited.

Bullpen

We know the Marlins are bad, but let's not completely overlook the fact that Sergio Romo has converted 10 of 11 save chances this season with a 9.0 K/9. His ERA may sit at 4.26, but if you remove his first outing of the season on March 29, that ERA falls all the way to 2.41. The Marlins square off against an equally bad Giants team this weekend, so we could very well see Romo, available in 88 percent of ESPN leagues, pick up another save opportunity or two.

Projected game scores

Hitting

Catcher

Christian Vazquez (R), 18 percent, Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees (LHP J.A. Happ): Happ finds himself in a bit of a funk, as his May ERA currently sits at 5.61. Vazquez, who has been torching lefty pitchers this season to the tune of a .375/.422/.700 slash line, should be able to take advantage of the struggling southpaw.

First Base

Christian Walker (R), 31 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): Walker is mired in a slump, but there's no better cure than Coors Field. The fact that Freeland has an 8.65 ERA in six home starts this season certainly doesn't hurt.

Second Base

Danny Santana (S), 14 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Jakob Junis): Santana has been a pleasant surprise this season, as he's quietly on pace for 13 homers and 19 steals in limited playing time. He's punishing righty pitching this season (.333/.371/.533), while Junis has been generous to lefty batters (.292/.352/.504).

Third Base

Pablo Sandoval (S), 4 percent, San Francisco Giants at Miami Marlins (RHP Sandy Alcantara): It's clear that fantasy managers are hesitant to roster Kung-Fu Panda, but that hasn't stopped him from raking. He currently sports a .329/.355/.726 slash line with seven homers against righties this season. There's no reason to fight it. Sandoval is a great streamer in this spot.

Shortstop

Enrique Hernandez (R), 42 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets (LHP Jason Vargas): Hernandez has bottomed out in May, batting just .169/.250/.268. However, there are still spots where he's playable, and this is one of them. Hernandez is hitting .300/.403/.533 versus lefties this season, and Vargas is allowing an unsightly 49 percent hard contact.

Corner Infield

Eric Thames (L), 4 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Joe Musgrove): After posting a 1.64 ERA in April, Musgrove has tanked in May with an ugly 8.25 ERA. In other words, this is the time to attack. Thames is now on the strong side of a platoon with Jesus Aguilar at first base, and he's got big-time power against righties.

Middle Infield

Marwin Gonzalez (S), 46 percent, Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Charlie Morton): With eligibility at five different positions, Gonzalez is the perfect plug-and-play option on a short slate where fantasy managers have multiple holes to fill. He has been on a tear of late, batting .300/.388/.456 in the month of May.

Outfield

Raimel Tapia (L), 5 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Taylor Clarke): With Charlie Blackmon on the injured list, Tapia has taken over the leadoff spot for the Rockies. Not only that, but he's hitting .319/.380/.625 at Coors Field. The Rockies are at Coors Field all week, meaning Tapia should be a popular streaming option for the duration.

Oscar Mercado (R), 9 percent, Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox (LHP Manny Banuelos): Mercado's rostered percentage sits in single digits, but don't be surprised to see that number shoot up in the coming weeks. He's settled into the No. 2 spot in Cleveland's batting order and is batting .323/417/.516 through his first 10 games. He even swiped his first two bases on Monday. The rookie gets a terrific matchup on Thursday, squaring off against Banuelos, who is surrendering a 1.015 OPS to righty batters.

Bryan Reynolds (S), 2 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Chase Anderson): All Reynolds has done since being called up is bat .327/.381/.577 with five homers and nine doubles in 33 games. He might see his playing time take a hit when Corey Dickerson returns, but he's worth riding for now. Reynolds is available nearly everywhere.

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).