Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

If Jameson Taillon can keep opponents from hitting the ball over the wall, his ERA should plummet. AP

As usual, Thursday presents us with an abbreviated slate. Fortunately, there are still 12 games on the menu, so the pool of available players isn't as shallow as it usually gets. That said, some possible pitching streamers are pretty much off the board because of undesirable matchups (Wade Miley vs. the Rockies at Coors Field and Rich Hill vs. the Yankees), so what we're left with isn't the most exciting group of arms.

What is exciting, however, is that Jarred Kelenic, one of the game's top prospects, is expected to make his debut for the Mariners on Thursday. He's already rostered in nearly 70% of ESPN leagues, but he's worth scooping up if he's still available in your league.

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


Jameson Taillon (R), rostered in 53% of ESPN leagues, New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays: Taillon's 5.02 ERA doesn't tell the complete story. Not only does he hold a strong 1.12 WHIP, but his xERA sits at just 2.98. Taillon's 5.7 K/BB also sits in the top five of the American League (min. 20 IP). In other words, the right-hander should start to see better results going forward. He needs to do a better job of keeping the ball in the park (2.2 HR/9), but homers haven't been a problem for him in the past. As such, there's hope that the gopher ball may be an issue he can correct. Fortunately for Taillon, Tropicana Field is not favorable for home runs, and the Rays are merely middle-of-the-road against right-handed pitching.

Garrett Richards (R), 15%, Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics: Since walking six batters in his April 21 start against Toronto, Richards has reined in his control issues. Over his last three starts, he's posted a 2.84 ERA with 22 strikeouts and just two free passes over 19 innings. Whether the improved control sticks remains to be seen, but if Richards can continue to limit walks, he misses enough bats with his slider and curve to give him a decent ceiling for a streamer. Although Oakland has a strong 10.4% walk rate against righties, they've been a slightly below-average offense as a whole, so this is not a matchup you need to avoid.

Merrill Kelly (R), 3%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Miami Marlins: Kelly isn't a hurler you'd feel comfortable starting against most offenses, but the Marlins are not most offenses. Miami ranks in the bottom five with just an 86 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. They also sport the fourth-highest strikeout rate (27.1%). This helps put the 32-year-old in a very nice spot on Thursday. Although Kelly has an ugly 5.40 ERA, most of that damage came in his first few starts. The right-hander has held opponents to three-or-fewer runs in four straight outings, including tough matchups against the Padres and Reds, so he should be able to keep the Marlins in check.

Spencer Turnbull (R), 5%, Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals: Our list of potential streaming options is getting a bit thin here, but there's some hope that Turnbull can turn in a solid performance on Thursday. While the right-hander has a 4.74 ERA over four starts, his 3.47 FIP and 3.81 xERA suggest that he's actually pitched better than that. Turnbull's strikeouts are down this season, but he's surrendering less hard contact (35.5%) and continues to limit the longball (0.47 HR/9). Against a mediocre Royals lineup, Turnbull is at least in the streamer discussion for deeper formats.

Logan Gilbert (R), 29%, Seattle Mariners vs. Cleveland: Earlier in the week, it was reported Seattle was going to call up Jarred Kelenic, the No. 3-overall player on ESPN's Kiley McDaniel's top-100 MLB prospects for 2021. The Mariners are doubling down on promotions as they're also summoning Gilbert, McDaniel's No. 43. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound right-hander features a mid-90s fastball he throws with solid command, along with a changeup, curveball and slider. If he's able to locate his fastball against major-league hitters as well as he's done on the farm, Gilbert has a chance for immediate success. He draws a favorable lineup for his debut as Cleveland will tote a below-average unit into pitcher-friendly T-Mobile Park.

Bullpen: The closer situation in Oakland has been somewhat messy this season, with Lou Trivino and Jake Diekman both getting consistent looks in the ninth inning. Over the last two weeks, Trivino has notched four saves, while Diekman has two. Even if Trivino (available in 55% of leagues) doesn't get all of the saves in Oakland, he still has six saves on the season, which is more than names like Kenley Jansen and Edwin Diaz. The Oakland right-hander is a fine pickup if you're playing catch-up in the saves department.

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


Catcher -- Tucker Barnhart (L), 23%, Cincinnati Reds at Colorado Rockies (RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez): Barnhart, a career .250/.328/.378 hitter, has put up a .307/.381/.533 line in 25 games this season. We can't expect this type of production to continue long-term, but we can certainly expect the 30-year-old backstop to stay hot at Coors Field, where he'll square off against Gonzalez, who is allowing a .399 wOBA to left-handed swingers.

First Base -- Brandon Belt (L), 23%, San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Wil Crowe): Belt has never hit 20 homers in a season, but this could be the year. Not only has the Giants first baseman already slugged eight homers, but his power numbers are backed up by his batted-ball data. Belt's hard-hit rate (55%) and barrel rate (21.7%) are both elite. On Thursday, he gets the platoon edge against Crowe, one of the lowest-ranked hurlers on the slate.

Second Base -- Josh Harrison (R), 37%, Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Zach Eflin): Not only is the 33-year-old Harrison hitting .291/.378/.442 this season, but he's frequently been hitting second or third in Washington's batting order. While Harrison won't have the platoon advantage on Thursday, he sports a .361 wOBA against same-sided pitching this season.

Third Base -- Hunter Dozier (R), 41%, Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers (RHP Spencer Turnbull): After a slow start, Dozier has turned things on of late, particularly in the power department. Over his last nine games, he's delivered seven extra-base hits, including three homers. With his barrel rate, hard-hit rate, and average exit velocity all ranking in the 75th percentile or better, expect more positive production from Dozier going forward.

Shortstop -- Brandon Crawford (L), 19%, San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Wil Crowe): Crawford is one of those seemingly boring middle-infield options that most fantasy managers don't want to roster. That said, this "boring" shortstop has hit .306/.407/.551 with four homers over his last 17 games and gets a tasty matchup against Crowe.

Corner Infield -- Asdrubal Cabrera (S), 25%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Miami Marlins (LHP Trevor Rogers): Like Crawford, Cabrera is another unexciting veteran who continues to hit. The 35-year-old is batting .341/.453/.523 over his last 14 games, and his 15.4% walk rate is (by far) a career best. Cabrera will have his hands full with Rogers, but his switch-hitting ability gives him the platoon edge.

Middle Infield -- Willy Adames (R), 8%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees (RHP Jameson Taillon): It's been a rough start for Adames, who is hitting .189 with a 35.3% strikeout rate through 34 games. That said, his 15.7% barrel rate ranks in the 90th percentile, so we know he's still making hard contact. As stated above, Taillon has had trouble keeping the ball in the park this season, so the hope is that Adames can take advantage.

Outfield -- Robbie Grossman (S), 17%, Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Daniel Lynch): Lynch, a highly touted pitching prospect, has a bright future, but if his last outing was any indication (8 ER in 2/3 IP), there are going to be some speed bumps ahead. Grossman, meanwhile, is an underappreciated fantasy asset right now, particularly in OBP leagues. The veteran currently sports a .383 OBP with three homers and seven steals, with three of those swipes coming in the past week.

Outfield -- Nick Senzel (R), 32%, Cincinnati Reds at Colorado Rockies (RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez): Senzel gives us another opportunity to take advantage of the Coors Field factor. The 25-year-old, who has both power and speed, has settled into the leadoff spot and has hit safely in six straight games. Although he's currently eligible only in the outfield, he's on track to gain second-base eligibility soon.

Outfield -- Corey Dickerson (L), 27%, Miami Marlins at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Merrill Kelly): The last 21 games have seen Dickerson hit .359/.438/.484. He gets a slight park upgrade by trading in LoanDepot Park for Chase Field, and he draws the platoon edge against Kelly, who has had trouble with left-handed batters this season.