Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

Will your fantasy baseball team be served by starting Justus Sheffield of the Seattle Mariners on Thursday? Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

In terms of streaming pitching, this slate is an ugly one, folks. Nearly all of Thursday's hurlers are already rostered in well over 50% of leagues, and the remaining arms aren't exactly inspiring. Sure, there's still a chance that some rotations will get shifted around and some new names pop up. However, if not, you don't need to force the issue and take on added risk unless your particular situation warrants it.

With that in mind, here's a look at Thursday's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in less than 50% of ESPN leagues.


Justus Sheffield (L), rostered in 8% of ESPN leagues, Seattle Mariners at Detroit Tigers: Sheffield might be the top streaming option of the day, but that's not saying much given the dearth of available arms. Despite a swing-and-miss slider, the 25-year-old isn't striking hitters out (6.9 K/9) and isn't displaying great control (3.8 BB/9). On the bright side, Sheffield has held opponents to only two runs in three of his last four turns, and he's in a good spot to do that again on Thursday, squaring off against a Detroit offense that's been the worst in baseball against left-handed pitching, illustrated by a 75 wRC+ and 30.6% K-rate.

Mike Minor (L), 32%, Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics: It's been a mixed bag for Minor this season. His velocity (91.2 mph) is up from 2020 (90.8 mph), but it hasn't yet returned to its 2019 levels (92.5 mph). While Minor is still missing plenty of bats (9.8 K/9), he's shown little start-to-start consistency. He's produced only two quality starts this season, and only once has he allowed fewer than four earned runs in consecutive starts. Under normal circumstances, there'd be little reason to stream Minor against an Oakland team that has had its way with lefty pitching (118 wRC+), but pickings are slim on Thursday. The hope is that the veteran can rack up some strikeouts and rely on the pitcher-friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum to keep this lineup in check.

J.A. Happ (L), 9%, Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees: Honestly, it's hard to make a strong case for Happ, who sports a 5.61 ERA over 10 starts and draws a road date with the Yankees. If you squint hard enough, though, you might notice that the Yankees have been below average versus lefties this season. The Bronx Bombers have also been a bottom-10 offense over the last month, ranking 22nd in baseball with an 89 wRC+ and a bloated 27.4% strikeout rate. In other words, the matchup isn't as bad as you might think. Still, Happ is a highly combustible hurler who should only be used in deeper formats where you're trying to steal a win and aren't worried about the ratio risk.

Bullpen: Rostering Colorado pitchers always feels a little dicey, but Daniel Bard has been on a nice little roll of late. Since getting blasted for four runs by the Diamondbacks on May 2, the right-hander has produced a 0.60 ERA over his last 12 appearances, with five saves and 23 strikeouts over 15 frames. Bard does still carry some risk, but he's an entrenched closer who is available in over 70% of ESPN leagues.

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


Catcher -- Jorge Alfaro (R), 4%, Miami Marlins vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez): Since returning from the injured list in late May, Alfaro has made his presence felt, popping a pair of homers and, more impressively, swiping a pair of bags. Alfaro has the second-highest sprint speed among catchers, so the occasional steal is indeed part of his skill set. He matches up well with Gonzalez, who is sporting a 6.33 road ERA.

First Base -- Joey Votto (L), 21%, Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Freddy Peralta): Activated from the injured list earlier this week, Votto is back in action and hitting in the heart of the Reds order. Prior to getting hurt, the veteran was stinging the ball, producing a 49.4% hard-hit rate with an elite 12.3% barrel rate. Peralta is a tough customer, but Votto gets the platoon edge in one of the game's most homer-friendly parks.

Second Base -- Jed Lowrie (S), 41%, Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Mike Minor): Like much of Oakland's lineup, the switch-hitting Lowrie has done a lot of damage against southpaws this season. He's hitting .314 with a .366 OBP against them, which puts him in a good spot against Minor on Thursday. Lowrie is consistently moving around in the order, having hit second, third, fourth, and fifth over the past week, but he's always in the thick of things.

Third Base -- Hunter Dozier (R), 27%, Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics (RHP Frankie Montas): Dozier has put up strong Statcast data this season, producing a 46.5% hard-hit rate and a 13.1% barrel rate. He's finally starting to see results. He drilled a pair of dingers over the last week and had his first three-hit game of the season on Monday. Dozier will look to keep things going against Montas, who is allowing tons of hard contact this season.

Shortstop -- Willi Castro (S), 12%, Detroit Tigers vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Justus Sheffield): After hitting .349/.381/.550 over 36 games in 2020, Castro has been a big disappointment this season. He's finally starting to show signs of life, though. The 24-year-old is hitting .333/.400/.567 over his last 10 games, and Sheffield hasn't done a good job keeping right-handed batters in check (.290/.370/.444).

Corner Infield -- Daniel Vogelbach (L), 1%, Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Luis Castillo): Vogelbach has solidified himself as the Brewers' No. 2 hitter when a right-hander is on the mound, which is the case on Thursday with Castillo on the hill. The 28-year-old thumper boasts big power with a big walk rate, and left-handed swingers have tagged Castillo for a .310/.379/.481 line this season.

Middle Infield -- Jonathan India (R), 29%, Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Freddy Peralta): The Reds have inserted India as their new leadoff hitter, and it's not hard to see why. Over his last 13 games, the rookie is batting .378/.511/1.105 with two homers and two steals. Hitting atop of a dangerous lineup in a hitter-friendly park, India is worth investing in -- even in a tough matchup against Peralta.

Outfield -- A.J. Pollock (R), 49%, Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Mitch Keller): Pollock is a good way to get exposure to a Dodgers lineup that figures to do a ton of damage against Keller. The right-hander has made 11 starts this season and has yet to register a quality start, putting up a 6.65 ERA and a 1.72 WHIP.

Outfield -- Trevor Larnach (L), 4%, Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees (RHP Michael King): There's been much more attention paid to Alex Kirilloff in Minnesota, but Larnach also deserves some notice. He's hitting .333/.487/.600 with two homers over his last 11 games, and will square off against King, one of the lowest-ranked hurlers on the slate.

Outfield -- Dillon Thomas (R), under 1%, Seattle Mariners at Detroit Tigers (LHP Tyler Alexander): His contract was purchased from Triple-A Tacoma earlier in the week and the 28-year-old outfielder should get most of his action against left-handed pitching. Thomas forced the call with a solid .338/.459/.625 for the Rainiers. He also swiped four bags in five tries. There is some risk with Thomas in that he could be lifted if a right-hander replaces Alexander. Still, Thomas offers the always yearned for power/speed combo.