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 Derek Carty
Spencer Strider (68% rostered in ESPN leagues) is the top streaming option who stands a chance of being available in your league. He's been nothing short of dominant this year with a 13.5 K/9, a 2.87 ERA, and a 2.51 xFIP. If Strider is gone, Trevor Williams (sub-1% rostered) will almost certainly be available. He projects as a top-five pitcher for Thursday according to THE BAT X, right behind Strider and right ahead of (checks notes) Gerrit Cole. Matchup quality will do that, as Williams gets to face a below-average Miami Marlins offense in an extreme pitchers' park.
Much has been made of Tony Gonsolin this year (10 wins with a 1.54 ERA) and there's even talk of him starting the All-Star Game, but his matchup today is mediocre and, honestly, if he's still on your team, why? You should be trying to trade him as quickly as possible. He's literally the exact same guy he's always been, just with a ton of good luck this year. Having a .186 BABIP and a 91% LOB would make Patrick Corbin look like a stud. In reality, Gonsolin is an above-average pitcher with a short leash, and nothing more. Expect a low-4.00s ERA over the rest of the season. He's not worth starting today in shallower leagues, and in deeper leagues you should be looking to dump him ASAP.
The Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates play a double-header today, which would automatically make anyone who plays both games one of the top streaming options, but even if you don't happen to get lucky like that, guys here still figure to be elite streamers anyway. The Reds occupy two of the top-five spots in THE BAT X's projected runs scored among all teams on the slate. The Pirates occupy one of those remaining top-five spots. Both games are in the elite-hitting Great American Ball Park and the weather projects to be in the mid-80s. Stack as many of the hitters from this pair of contests as you can.
With Craig Kimbrel banged up, Brusdar Graterol (3%) picked up the save for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. He should be an immediate pickup in every single league. He's already a top-15 reliever in baseball if you don't care about saves. Now, with the chance for saves upcoming, he needs to be rostered. Besides, if nothing else, he has a great schedule this week facing the Colorado Rockies, followed by the Chicago Cubs.
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.
Mike Moustakas (CIN, 3B -- 8%) vs. Wilson and Contreras
Jack Suwinski (PIT, RF -- 5%) at Cessa and Minor
Diego Castillo (PIT, 2B -- 0%) at Minor
Abraham Toro (SEA, 2B -- 1%) vs. Lawrence
Cal Raleigh (SEA, C -- 3%) vs. Lawrence
Michael Chavis (PIT, 2B -- 3%) at Minor
Yoshi Tsutsugo (PIT, 1B -- 1%) at Cessa
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Thursday
Dylan Carlson (STL, CF -- 58%) at Strider
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC, SS -- 95%) at Verlander
Christian Vazquez (BOS, C -- 61%) vs. Cole
Tommy Edman (STL, 2B -- 99%) at Strider
Andrew Benintendi (KC, LF -- 87%) at Verlander
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Thursday
Prop of the Day
Nelson Velazquez RBI: Over/Under 0.5 (+330/-500)
THE BAT X sees Velazquez putting up 0.48 RBI for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 40.0% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $71.96.
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
Velazquez has primarily hit in the back-half of the batting order this year (90% of the time), but he is projected to hit fifth in the lineup in this matchup.
Dodger Stadium ranks as the No. 2 venue in the game for right-handed home runs, per THE BAT X projection system.
Dodger Stadium has the ninth-shallowest centerfield fences in the majors.
Dodger Stadium has the lowest fence height (on average) in the league.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The weather report calls for the fifth-best pitching weather of the day, as it relates to temperature and humidity.
Tony Gonsolin will have the handedness advantage over Velazquez today.