Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Thursday's MLB games

Rich Hill, the elder statesman of MLB pitchers, might be of streaming use on Thursday. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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 toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

Note: This file has been updated with overnight pitching changes and weather-related 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

By Mike Sheets

  • Rich Hill (5% rostered in ESPN leagues) continues to get it done at 42 years old, delivering a 2.89 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP across six starts. His career-worst 18.6% strikeout rate keeps dwindling, which decreases his margin for error, but his 6.2% walk rate is his best mark of the last seven years. While Hill has pitched beyond the fifth inning just once this season, Thursday's matchup against the Seattle Mariners puts him in good position for another extended outing. The Mariners offense has been merely league average in May while posting a bottom-five ISO (.120).

  • Thursday presents us with an enticing opportunity to stack bats against the Carlos Hernandez of the Kansas City Royals, who has been arguably the worst pitcher in baseball this season. The right-hander has been blasted for a 9.11 ERA with more walks than strikeouts in six starts. The big bats on the Chicago White Sox are already rostered, but Andrew Vaughn (42%), AJ Pollock (22%), and Gavin Sheets (3%) are all available in more than 50% of ESPN leagues.

  • After firing six shutout frames in his MLB debut, things didn't go as well for George Kirby (37%) in his second big-league start. His slider wasn't getting whiffs, and his defense faltered behind him. Still, the rookie managed to limit the damage, allowing just one earned run over four frames. The Boston Red Sox lineup may look intimidating on paper, but their 88 wRC+ ranks 24th in baseball, so it hasn't exactly been firing on all cylinders. You don't need to go out of your way to get Kirby into your starting lineup, but the 24-year-old is still worth streaming consideration on Thursday's shortened slate.

  • If you're seeking offense, Juan Yepez (21%) continues to play every day and bat cleanup in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup. More importantly, the 24-year-old continues to rake, hitting .333/.400/.533 with a pair of homers through his first 12 games. Yepez is seeing time in the outfield in addition to first base, so he should gain dual eligibility soon. Thursday's matchup against Chris Bassitt isn't particularly favorable, but Yepez is still a young bat worth rostering.

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.

Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Thursday

THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Thursday

Prop of the Day

Glenn Otto strikeouts: Over/Under 4.5 (+110/-150)


THE BAT X sees Otto putting up 3.2 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 24.0% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $39.88.

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.


  • Minute Maid Park projects as the No. 3 ballpark in baseball for strikeouts, according to THE BAT X projection system.

  • Otto will have the handedness advantage against six opposing hitters today.


  • THE BAT X projects Otto to throw 73 pitches today (second-least of all pitchers on the slate today), considering both his underlying tendencies and the matchup.

  • The Astros (19.5 K%, via THE BAT X) project to have the least strikeout-heavy lineup today.

  • The Minute Maid Park roof projects to be closed today, making conditions in this matchup 5 degrees hotter than the average outdoor game on the slate today - favorable for offense.

  • Otto has been lucky with his strikeouts since the start of last season, putting up a 9.50 K/9 despite THE BAT X estimating his true talent level to be 8.84 - a 0.66 K/9 disparity.