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.
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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
Tanner Bibee continues to fly under the fantasy radar, as the Cleveland Guardians righty remains rostered in only 20% of ESPN leagues. Over his past nine starts, he has surrendered more than three earned runs on only one occasion, delivering a 3.22 ERA during that stretch with more than a strikeout per inning. Bibee should continue his success on Thursday in an extremely favorable matchup against a Kansas City Royals offense that has been virtually nonexistent over the past month, putting up a 76 wRC+ and .286 wOBA (both MLB worsts).
Kyle Bradish (15% rostered) is another widely available streaming option for Thursday's 12-game slate. The Baltimore Orioles right-hander holds a 2.78 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over his past 10 outings while fanning at least seven batters in four of his past five starts. A matchup against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium might sound intimidating, but keep in mind that the Yankees, currently without Aaron Judge, have been a below-average offense against right-handed pitching this season (94 wRC+), and they have been even less productive over the past month (83 wRC+).
After an extreme dry spell in May and part of June, Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe (38%) has heated up over the past few weeks, which means he needs to be scooped up in leagues that he was dropped. Dating to June 13, the rookie is batting .379/.446/.603 over his past 18 games. The fact that Volpe is on pace for 20+ homers and 30+ steals, despite his struggles this season, shows just how high his fantasy upside is. Make sure he's rostered in your league for the second half.
As a pitch-to-contact hurler who doesn't miss bats, Michael Lorenzen (6%) is not an exciting pitcher from a fantasy perspective. However, he has streaming value in the right matchups, and that's what he has Thursday in the Detroit Tigers' tilt versus the Oakland Athletics. Over the past two weeks, Oakland owns the worst offense in the American League with a 77 wRC+ and .285 wOBA.
It remains to be seen how long the Cincinnati Reds will stick with Brandon Williamson in the rotation, but his 5.56 ERA and 1.40 WHIP across nine big league starts haven't left him with much leash. As long as he keeps struggling and as long as the Reds keep running him out there, he's a pitcher we want to attack. With the Washington Nationals on tap, Lane Thomas (62%), who is batting .356 with six homers, 17 RBIs and three steals over his past 25 games, is the top streaming option, and Joey Meneses (19%), Jeimer Candelario (16%) and Keibert Ruiz (51%) also carry the platoon advantage into Thursday's matchup.
Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday
Bullpen usage watch for Thursday
By Todd Zola
Devin Williams has allowed only seven earned runs all season, with two coming last night as he failed to convert a save for just the second time in 20 chances. Williams pitched for the third time in four days. The 25 pitches used last night give him 53 since Sunday, signaling a likely day off when the Milwaukee Brewers try to salvage a split of their four-game set with the Chicago Cubs. Joel Payamps has quietly emerged as a top setup man, posting a 1.47 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over his last 18 appearances, spanning 18 1/3 innings. He compiled 12 holds, a save and a win over that stretch, along with 19 strikeouts. Payamps. along with Elvis Peguero, line up to handle the late innings today.
David Robertson collected a save for the second straight game on Wednesday, retiring the Arizona Diamondbacks in order in the ninth to preserve the win for Kodai Senga, whose eight-inning, 12-strikeout effort was his best with the New York Mets. Robertson has now pitched on three of the last four days, totaling 38 pitches. Especially with the rest of the bullpen not appearing yesterday, Robertson will likely get today off, with Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley earmarked for the high leverage duties.
Kenley Jansen celebrated being named an All-Star for the fourth time with his 18th save last night, securing the Boston Red Sox's 4-2 win over the Texas Rangers. Jansen needed only 11 pitches, and he hadn't worked since last Saturday, so he'll be fine to come back today.
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.
Tim Anderson (CHW, SS -- 38%) vs. Berrios and Kikuchi
Whit Merrifield (TOR, 2B -- 39%) at Lynn and Banks
Yasmani Grandal (CHW, C -- 6%) vs. Berrios and Kikuchi
Matt Vierling (DET, CF -- 1%) vs. Harris
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Thursday
Ian Happ (CHC, LF -- 53%) at Peralta
Nico Hoerner (CHC, SS -- 93%) at Peralta
Salvador Perez (KC, C -- 90%) at Tanner Bibee
Nick Castellanos (PHI, RF -- 92%) at Armstrong
The Bat X's Best Stacks for Thursday
Prop of the Day
Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers: Pitching outs prop is 16.5 (-130/+100).
THE BAT sees Urias putting up 15.0 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 34.1% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER, with an expected value of $31.84.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER:
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the fourth-worst projected batting order of the day in terms of overall offensive ability.
According to the weather report, the temperature and humidity for this contest will be the fifth-most favorable for pitching of the day.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER:
The leading projection system (THE BAT X) expects Urias to be on a bit of a short leash in today's game, projecting a maximum of 81 pitches.
John Libka grades out as a huge hitters umpire and is likely to be calling pitches today.
Dodger Stadium profiles as the No. 5 venue in Major League Baseball for home runs, via the leading projection system (THE BAT).
The Pirates have nine bats in the projected batting order that will hold the platoon advantage against Urias in today's game.