Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

Chris Taylor has a favorable matchup with the Padres sending a left-hander to the mound. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As I fill in for Mike Sheets, this is my signoff for Daily Notes this year. I've again enjoyed digging into daily sleepers who can help add value to your league. I hope we've helped some of you toward fighting for your league trophy this week.

Unfortunately, my exit comes with a questionable lot of games, and Thursday's crop of streaming pitchers isn't as exciting or abundant as Wednesday's. The matchup of the Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds starts things off at 12:35 p.m. ET, but eight teams are off, which leaves a big need to fill in plate appearances and innings pitched.

Scheduling these players into your lineup could give you a huge advantage during championship week, and fantasy players digging for help in championship week can still find value.


Pitchers to stream

Aaron Civale (R), rostered in 39% of ESPN fantasy leagues, Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox: Sure, that 4.54 xFIP says his 1.82 ERA is a bit in the clouds, but he hasn't allowed more than two earned runs or gone fewer than five innings in any start. The White Sox are tied for the second-highest strikeout rate (26.4%) against righty pitching.

Joe Musgrove (R), 51.7%, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs: He's above the roster threshold, but I'm sneaking him in to emphasize his situation. The Cubs aren't as scary a matchup as they'd been earlier in the season, with Javier Baez (thumb) and Kris Bryant (ankle) iffy to return this season. This doesn't ease the concerns Musgrove causes (4.49 ERA, 8.16 K/9), but the angst he may have caused your fantasy opponents may allow you to take advantage of this secretly favorable draw. The righty owns a 1.08 ERA in three outings against Chicago this year, and that came before all these injury woes.

Tyler Beede (R), 2.3%, San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies: Getting the Rockies on the road, where their 75 wRC+ ranks 29th, is always a fine basis for a stream. Add pitcher-friendly Oracle Park as the setting, where Beede has at least been serviceable with a 4.02 ERA, and this is the right mix to hold your nose and take a chance during the finals.

Jordan Yamamoto (R), 11.4%, Miami Marlins vs. New York Mets: Going against Zack Wheeler is a tall order, but Yamamoto surprisingly has favored leaving Marlins Park this year (6.00 ERA at home, 3.48 on the road). His 1.24 ERA in the first half has been harshly corrected since the All-Star break (7.21), but he's still struck out 42 batters in 43 2/3 innings since the midsummer classic. The Mets are a daunting lineup to face, but the K's could help if that's all you need.


Addressing saves right now may be too late to help in roto leagues, but head-to-head players can still scrounge. Fantasy players can still widely pick up the Braves' Mark Melancon (31.8%), the Red Sox's Brandon Workman (35.9%) and the Marlins' Jose Urena (1.6%). Also keep an eye on closer usage; if an established stopper works two days in a row, try to pick up the understudy for that day's action.

The Boston Red Sox will go with a bullpen game as they attempt to sweep the Texas Rangers in Arlington. Travis Lakins will open, with Brian Johnson likely to follow. If you're desperate for a win, Johnson is in play. The AL-Central champion Minnesota Twins will also deploy a bevy of relievers the day after they clinched the division. No announcement has been made regarding who may take the hill.


Catcher -- Tom Murphy (R), 2.5%, Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics (LHP Sean Manaea): If Murphy gets the honor of catching Felix Hernandez's likely last start in Seattle as a Mariner, he'll have a tough matchup with Manaea, but fun fact: His .445 wOBA against left-handed hurlers ranks 12th among qualified bats.

First base -- Howie Kendrick (R), 29.4%, Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies (LHP Jason Vargas): An admitted favorite inclusion in this column, Kendrick gets another lefty opponent. He's crushed southpaws to a .372/.418/.593 slash in 122 plate appearances. Vargas has allowed 17 of his 20 homers on the season to righty enemies.

Second base -- Luis Arraez (L), 22.4%, Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers (RHP Jordan Zimmermann): Zimmermann has allowed the highest wOBA to lefty batters this year (.416). Arraez hasn't shown much power but owns a .384 wOBA so far versus righties.

Third base -- J.D. Davis (R), 29%, New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Jordan Yamamoto): One of my favorite late-round bargain buys for 2020 fantasy drafts, Davis has no discernable splits in terms of contact and offensive ratios, though he's actually gone for the reverse split with 13 of his 20 homers coming against righties. The Mets have played a bit too many lineup games with him, though, so check if he's on the card before clicking him to start.

Shortstop -- Andrelton Simmons (R), 40.3%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros (LHP Wade Miley): Simmons has posted a .296 /.355/.459 line with a 1.14 BB/K against lefties this year. Miley has slipped with a 4.96 ERA and a .291/.360/.450 allowed since the All-Star break.

Corner infield -- Miguel Cabrera (R), 46%, Detroit Tigers vs. Minnesota Twins (Bullpen game): Check to see if Cabrera is playing. He's expected back on Wednesday. If he resurfaces, he'll again be a wiser play against a lefty and, although it isn't official, southpaw Devin Smeltzer is expected to be one of the primary pitchers. Cabrera sports a .388 wOBA and 143 wRC+ against lefties. Smeltzer has struck out just 6.95 batters per nine, which means he'll probably leave hittable pitches in the strike zone on which even a slowing bat like Cabrera's can connect.

Middle infield -- Chris Taylor (R), 31.4%, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres (LHP Joey Lucchesi): Taylor is a safer fantasy play against southpaws, whom he's touched up for an .873 OPS and seven homers in 158 plate appearances. Lucchesi has allowed 19 of his 23 homers on the year to righty sticks.

Outfield -- Mark Canha (R), 49.2%, Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners (RHP Felix Hernandez): Canha has shed his bottom-side platoon label with a .300/.418/.552 slash in 337 plate appearances against the majority handedness. Hernandez's Seattle swansong should prompt A's fantasy shareholders to throw the bats into the lineup, considering he's allowed 2.17 HR/9.

Outfield -- Delino DeShields (R), 3%, Texas Rangers vs. Boston Red Sox (Bullpen game): DeShields has attempted a steal in both of the first two games of the series, swiping one while being thrown out on the other (although he may have been safe, but the Rangers were out of replay requests). Christian Vazquez left Wednesday night's contest early with tightness in his left hamstring so he's doubtful to play in Thursday's matinee affair. This favors DeShields, as Boston's other catchers aren't nearly as adept at controlling the running game as Vazquez.

Outfield -- Derek Dietrich (L), 10%, Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Chase Anderson): If Josh VanMeter (illness) is back in action, roll with him, but Dietrich would help if he's in the lineup. Even with his fall from grace after his hot start to the year, he still has an .830 OPS and all 19 of his homers against righties this year. Anderson has allowed 1.89 HR/9 away from Miller Park.