Look for our fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings, hitter upgrades, and downgrades daily to help you make smart fantasy baseball lineup decisions and for MLB betting tips. MLB game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared towards ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.
Note: This file has been updated with any overnight pitching changes or weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.
What you need to know for Thursday's MLB Games
By Mike Sheets
Paul Blackburn (10% rostered in ESPN leagues) of the Oakland Athletics sports a 1.80 ERA and 0.90 WHIP across his first two starts this season, fanning 10 and walking only one over 10 frames. There's the hope of continued success, thanks to an uptick in sinker velocity and a new pitch mix that has seen him rely more on his curveball and changeup, which are both generating whiffs. Blackburn is an intriguing streaming option against a Baltimore Orioles team that's striking out an MLB-worst 28.9% of the time.
After being announced as the St. Louis Cardinals' fifth starter two weeks ago, Jordan Hicks (8% rostered) will finally make his first start of the season (and of his career) on Thursday against the Miami Marlins. For DFS and streaming purposes, it's best to take the wait-and-see approach with Hicks. Despite having enticing stuff, he wasn't fully stretched out this spring and topped out at 35 pitches in his last relief appearance, so he's unlikely to pitch deep into Thursday's contest.
Are we witnessing a resurgence from Carlos Carrasco (58%)? After holding a 6.04 ERA over 12 starts last season and eventually undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow, the 35-year-old looks healthy again. Carrasco delivered a 0.84 ERA, 11.0 K/9, and 1.7 BB/9 over his first two starts, albeit against two weaker opponents (ARI and WAS). He'll face a much tougher test against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, which makes him slightly riskier for DFS and streaming purposes, but he could be up to the task.
The New York Mets offense has been rolling in the early going, ranking second in MLB with a 128 wRC+ and ranking third with an 11.3% walk rate. Even with the hot start, they still have plenty of cost-effective left-handed bats, including Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Robinson Cano, and Dominic Smith, to build a cheap stack against right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who wasn't particularly sharp in his first two outings.
Zach Davies of the Arizona Diamondbacks is one of the hurlers we want to attack on Thursday. He posted a 5.78 ERA across 32 starts in 2021, and he's on the same track this season with a 5.79 mark over his first two turns. The big bats on the Washington Nationals are already rostered, but leadoff man Cesar Hernandez (9%), Maikel Franco (6%), and Lane Thomas (2%) offer an easy way to get exposure to this favorable matchup.
It's not too late to start another free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday.
Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday
Best Sub-50% Rostered Hitters for Thursday
Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing, and lots more.
Christian Walker (ARI, 1B -- 3%) at Josh Rogers
Aaron Hicks (NYY, CF -- 6%) at Michael Pineda
Carson Kelly (ARI, C -- 14%) at Rogers
Jesus Sanchez (MIA, RF -- 39%) vs. Hicks
Pavin Smith (ARI, RF -- 6%) at Rogers
Alejandro Kirk (TOR, C -- 13%) at Tanner Houck
Cooper Hummel (ARI, LF -- 0%) at Rogers
Daniel Vogelbach (PIT, 1B -- 1%) at Mark Leiter Jr.
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Thursday
Jarred Kelenic (SEA, CF -- 53%) vs. Taylor Hearn
J.P. Crawford (SEA, SS -- 62%) vs. Hearn
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC, SS -- 92%) vs. Joe Ryan
Spencer Torkelson (DET, 1B -- 78%) vs. Jordan Montgomery
Tommy Edman (STL, 2B -- 93%) at Pablo Lopez
Jeimer Candelario (DET, 3B -- 65%) vs. Montgomery
Dylan Carlson (STL, CF -- 81%) at Lopez
Robbie Grossman (DET, LF -- 50%) vs. Montgomery
Mark Canha (NYM, LF -- 72%) vs. DeSclafani
Tyler O'Neill (STL, LF -- 93%) at Lopez
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Thursday
New York Yankees at Pineda
Arizona Diamondbacks at Rogers
Prop of the Day
Marco Gonzales strikeouts: Over/Under 4.5 (+125/-170)
THE BAT sees Gonzales putting up 5.0 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 53.1% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $19.45.
Note: Expected Value is a measure of how good a bet is, factoring the probability that it will win versus the odds the book is providing. If you were to wager $1.00 100 times on a bet with an Expected Value of $25, you would win some and you would lose some, but in the end you would expect to come away with $25 in profit on your $100 investment.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
THE BAT projects Gonzales to throw 101 pitches in this game (most of all pitchers today), considering both his underlying tendencies and the matchup.
T-Mobile Park projects as the No. 2 ballpark in the league for strikeouts, per THE BAT projection system.
Cold weather is strongly correlated with less offense (and more whiffs), and this game projects for the coldest temperature of the day at 52 degrees.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
Carlos Torres, who is expected to be calling pitches today, projects as a hitters umpire.
The Rangers have seven hitters in the projected offense that will have the handedness advantage against Gonzales in this matchup.