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

When will Hunter Greene of the Cincinnati Reds add some control to his speed? AP

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 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

  • A quick glimpse at Hunter Greene of the Cincinnati Reds reveals a 5.49 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP across eight starts, which helps explain why he's rostered in just 32% of ESPN leagues. However, a closer look shows that the former No. 2 overall pick is showing promise since getting tagged by the Milwaukee Brewers in early May (8 ER in 2⅔ IP). Since then, Greene has a 1.93 ERA over his past three outings with a 10.1 K/9 and a .123 batting average against. Perhaps most importantly, the 22-year-old averaged 100.1 mph on his four-seamer in his past start, which is notable because he was sitting "just" 98 mph with the pitch earlier this month. Walks continue to be an issue, but his minor league track record suggests there's reason for optimism in that department. Even with all of the warts, Greene carries sky-high upside, and he makes for a very appealing streamer against a Chicago Cubs team sporting a 26.8% K-rate and a bottom-three wRC+ (83) over the last 30 days.

  • Opposing Greene and the Reds on Thursday is Justin Steele (5% rostered), who is coming off two dominant outings. In 11 combined frames against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he gave up just one earned run while fanning 19 batters. Of course, it's hard to trust that Steele has suddenly turned a corner when he has been picking on one of baseball's worst lineups. Then again, he gets another tasty matchup on Thursday, squaring off against the Reds, who sport the worst wOBA (.289) and wRC+ (80) in the National League. In other words, Steele might be pitching over his head right now, but feel free to roll with him in another prime matchup.

  • It has understandably taken some time, but fantasy managers are finally starting to buy in on Martin Perez, whose roster percentage has spiked to 34% over the past week. The veteran left-hander holds a 1.64 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP over eight starts, and he's now gone six straight outings without allowing more than one earned run. Based on Perez's lengthy track record (which includes a career 4.58 ERA over 199 starts), it's easy to be skeptical. For now, though, Perez is showing pinpoint command, keeping the ball in the park, and limiting hard contact. Even with some regression inevitably coming, he gets a great draw on Thursday against an Oakland Athletics offense that's been brutal in May (.256 wOBA, 71 wRC+).

  • A pair of underrated Arizona hitters deserve some attention. Both Christian Walker (21%) and Pavin Smith (5%) have been scalding the ball. Walker has 11 home runs on the season, and his Statcast page is a sea of red, as he sports a Barrel rate (16.5%) and xwOBA (.412) that both rank in the 94th percentile. Smith, meanwhile, has been more inconsistent because of his swing-and-miss tendencies, but he still has an elite 15.5% Barrel rate. Regardless of who the Dodgers throw out there, at least one of Walker and Smith is assured to get the platoon edge in Thursday's matchup against Mitch White and the Los Angeles Dodgers.



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 Today


Prop of the Day

Justin Steele Pitching Outs: Over/Under 15.5 (+115/-150)

PROJECTION

THE BAT sees Steele putting up 11.9 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 26.7% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $33.23.

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 Cincinnati Reds projected lineup projects as the fifth-worst of the day.

  • The wind projects to be blowing in from RF at 12-mph in this contest, the most-favorable of the day for hurlers.

FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER

  • The Cincinnati Reds have been the third-unluckiest offense in the game this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to hit better the rest of the season.

  • Great American Ball Park ranks as the No. 2 venue in Major League Baseball for home runs, according to THE BAT projection system.

  • The Cincinnati Reds have eight batters in the projected offense that will have the handedness advantage against Justin Steele today, which is especially problematic given his large platoon split.

  • The weatherman calls for the second-best hitting weather of the day today in Cincinnati.