Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

Taijuan Walker is among Thursday's top streaming options on the road against the floundering Cardinals. Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Thursday's slate is loaded with afternoon baseball. There are 10 games on the docket, and only two qualify as night games. While that makes for a fun day of baseball, the streaming options on the pitching side are not so fun. Whether you choose to dabble with some of these hurlers will depend on how risk-averse you are.

Here's a look at Thursday's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in fewer than 50% of ESPN leagues.


Madison Bumgarner (L), rostered in 41% of ESPN leagues, Arizona Diamondbacks at Miami Marlins: After surrendering five or more runs in each his first three starts, Bumgarner has dazzled in his last three turns, allowing just two earned runs over 17 frames with more than a strikeout per inning. While the results have obviously been impressive, it's notable that he's averaging 91 mph with his four-seamer in his last three starts after sitting 89.9 mph in his first three. That velo bump may not seem like much, but it makes a difference for a guy like Bumgarner who doesn't rely on elite velocity to be effective. The veteran lefty gets a prime matchup on Thursday, matching up with a below-average Marlins lineup in a pitcher-friendly park.

Taijuan Walker (R), 33%, New York Mets at St. Louis Cardinals: Walker is off to a promising start, holding a 3.00 ERA over his first five starts while averaging 94 mph on his fastball, his highest velocity since 2015. The walks (5.0 BB/9) have been a problem this season, but his career 2.9 BB/9 suggests that'll get straightened out. Even with the addition of Nolan Arenado, the Cardinals offense has been non-threatening, ranking bottom-10 in baseball with an 87 wRC+ and 24.8% strikeout rate, so Walker should be able to stay on track in this favorable matchup.

John Gant (R), 8%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets: Although Gant sports a 2.16 ERA across five starts, he's done little to earn it. He sports a 5.50 xERA, and his 6.5 BB/9 nearly matches his 7.2 K/9. Gant earns a spot in this space because of his matchup against a dormant Mets offense that has scored the fewest runs in baseball, averaging just 3.3 runs per game. The right-hander has done a good job limiting hard contact this season (24.3%), so the hope is that he can throw enough strikes to keep the sleepwalking Mets lineup at bay long enough for a chance to pick up his third win of the season.

Bullpen: Ian Kennedy may not be a big-name closer, but he's been pitching like one this season. The veteran righty has notched eight saves to go along with a 2.08 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. Most impressively, he's fanned 17 batters in 13 frames without allowing a single free pass. Available in 57% of ESPN leagues, Kennedy deserves more attention, even in shallow formats.

For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.


Catcher -- Mike Zunino (R), 5%, Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney): You know what you're getting with Zunino. He's going to swing and miss a lot, but when he makes contact, he does damage. The Tampa backstop has clubbed five homers this season, thanks in part to an elite 23.5% barrel rate, and he draws the platoon edge against Heaney on Thursday.

First Base -- Bobby Dalbec (R), 11%, Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Spencer Turnbull): Speaking of swing and miss, Dalbec also has plenty of it. He also has plenty of power. While that power hasn't really shown up yet this season, he sports a 42% hard-hit and is consistently barreling the ball (18.2%), so it should come soon.

Second Base -- Josh Harrison (R), 23%, Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves (LHP Drew Smyly): Smyly has been roughed up in every start this season. He's surrendered four or more runs in all four outings, leading to an 8.05 ERA. Needless to say, it's not a bad idea to get some exposure to some Washington bats on Thursday. Harrison has done nothing but hit this season, producing a .361/.451/.508 slash line, including a .444/.545/.778 triple slash versus lefties.

Third Base -- Hunter Dozier (R), 29%, Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland (RHP Triston McKenzie): After a slow start, Dozier has six extra-base hits in his past three games, including a pair of homers. Remember, this is a guy who smacked 26 homers with a .243 ISO back in 2019, so he has a more potent bat than many give him credit for. Dozier should stay hot against McKenzie, who has been tagged for a 55.3% hard-hit rate in five appearances.

Shortstop -- Luis Urias (R), 10%, Milwaukee Brewers at Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Zack Wheeler): Urias has quietly been a steady presence in Milwaukee's batting order. Not only is he getting on base consistently with a 15.6% walk rate, but he's batting .385/.414/.577 over his last nine games. While American Family Field is great for righty power, Citizens Bank Ballpark has played even better for home runs in recent years.

Corner Infield -- Ryan Zimmerman (R), 2%, Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves (LHP Drew Smyly): Even at age 36, Zimmerman continues to produce. He's batting .319/.347/.596 in 17 games, and he's been particularly deadly against lefties, illustrated by a .391/.391/.565 slash line against them. Meanwhile, Smyly is allowing a .412 wOBA to right-handed batters.

Middle Infield -- Mike Brosseau (R), 1%, Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney): Brosseau is another hitter to target when there's a southpaw on the mound. The 27-year-old is a career .290/.333/.531 hitter against left-handed pitching, and the fact that he's eligible at three different positions makes him easy to slot into your lineup.

Outfield -- Adolis Garcia (R), 40%, Texas Rangers at Minnesota Twins (RHP Michael Pineda): Garcia just continues to mash. He slugged his seventh home run of the season on Tuesday, putting him on a 37-homer pace in just 110 games. With a Sprint Speed that puts him in the 89th percentile, he also has the wheels to swipe a bag (although he's already been caught three times in four tries this season, so he might be getting the red light soon).

Outfield -- Adam Duvall (L), 15%, Miami Marlins vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Madison Bumgarner): Duvall is showing signs of snapping out of his slump as he's hit safely in his last two games, including a grand-slam yesterday. More importantly, he's only fanned at a 23% clip over the past week, well down from his 35% season mark. Reducing strikeouts is usually a precursor to a hot streak, and when Duvall gets hot, the ball typically leaves the yard.

Outfield -- Josh Rojas (L), 21%, Arizona Diamondbacks at Miami Marlins (RHP Pablo Lopez): Rojas fell out of regular playing time early in the season, but now he's playing every day and making the most of it. He's clubbed four homers in his past five games, boasts a double-digit walk rate, and is eligible at shortstop, second base, and outfield. After being dropped by many of the fantasy managers who drafted him, Rojas is worth rostering again.