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What you need to know for Thursday's MLB games
By Mike Sheets
Tanner Bibee (32% rostered in ESPN leagues) has established himself as a mainstay in this column, as he continues to dominate on the mound while his roster percentage fails to keep up. The young right-hander is coming off his best outing of the season, a performance that saw him spin seven scoreless frames against the Philadelphia Phillies while fanning eight and allowing only three baserunners. Over Bibee's last six turns, he sports a 1.82 ERA with 40 Ks in 34 2/3 innings. Look for that dominance to continue on Thursday, when he matches up against a Chicago White Sox club that's put up an underwhelming 87 wRC+ and 24.8% K% since the All-Star break. On a shortened slate that features only six games, streaming Bibee is a no-brainer.
Chase Silseth (1%) is a name that's available in nearly all of ESPN leagues, but he's someone who warrants attention. He bounced back and forth from the bullpen and starting rotation earlier in the season, but after posting a 2.79 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 26.8% strikeout rate in nine starts at Triple-A, the Los Angeles Angels gave him another look in the rotation last Wednesday versus the New York Yankees. Silseth answered the call by firing 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball while piling up 10 strikeouts. Most notable is that he debuted a revamped slider that generated 10 swings and misses. The 23-year-old still carries some start-to-start risk given his inconsistency at the big-league level, but he's worth a look against a Detroit Tigers offense that's been floundering over the last month (86 wRC+).
A favorable matchup against the New York Mets also has Josiah Gray (16%) on the streaming radar. The righty is someone who's difficult to trust on a weekly basis, but there's reason for optimism versus a Mets lineup that ranks second-to-last in baseball since the break with a .274 wOBA and 75 wRC+. When Gray took the mound against the Mets earlier this season, he pumped six shutout innings while striking out a season-high nine batters.
Consistency has been an issue for Miles Mikolas this season. He hasn't delivered back-to-back quality starts since May, and he sports a 5.19 ERA over his last nine turns. Even his 4.33 ERA is significantly better than his xERA of 4.94. That makes him someone we want to attack rather than try to stream against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. Target Ian Happ (51%) and Mike Tauchman (2%), both of whom will have the platoon edge, along with Seiya Suzuki (45%) and Christopher Morel (37%).
Since coming off the injured list earlier this month, Riley Greene (18%) has been red-hot, slashing .370/.431/.544 with a pair of home runs in 13 games. He sports a 142 wRC+ against right-handed pitching this season, and he'll get the platoon advantage in Saturday's matchup against the Angels. Grab the former first-round pick for Thursday's abbreviated slate and consider keeping him around if he continues to hit.
Bullpen advice for Thursday
Yesterday's rainout in Motown means there are five games on today's docket with the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers playing a pair of matinees. The Angels will be favored in both contests, giving closer Carlos Estevez (63.5% rostered) a solid chance at a save. Matt Moore continues to excel as a setup man, fanning eight while collecting three holds over his last four appearances, spanning four innings.
The Tigers face an uphill battle, especially since the Angels will be recharged after acquiring Lucas Giolito for their playoff push. Nevertheless, closer Alex Lange (19.9%) is likely available and has 17 saves. Jason Foley is next in line with 18 holds and four saves.
Emmanuel Clase is well-rested, so he'll be awaiting the ninth inning call tonight. Trevor Stephan is also available when the Cleveland Guardians visit the Chicago White Sox, so he and his 15 holds are an option in deeper formats.
Kendall Graveman (9.3%) continues to serve as the White Sox closer while Liam Hendriks is out. That said, Graveman has struggled in July, posting a 5.19 ERA and 1.50 WHIP for the month, garnering only two saves while being charged with two blown saves and a loss.
The New York Mets continue to play the matchup game in the late innings, though David Robertson (58.1%) closes most of the time as he leads the club with 15 saves, while adding seven holds. Adam Ottavino has six saves and 11 holds. Using Robertson and Ottavino together could be fruitful with the Mets big favorites over the Washington Nationals.
With Hunter Harvey on the IL, the Nationals closer is again Kyle Finnegan (9.5%).
Adbert Alzolay (8.9%) has quietly emerged as the club's chief source of saves, collecting seven in July.
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.
Francisco Alvarez (NYM, DH -- 32%) vs. Gray
Christopher Morel (CHC, CF -- 36%) at Mikolas
Daniel Vogelbach (NYM, DH -- 1%) vs. Gray
Dylan Carlson (STL, CF -- 3%) vs. Steele
Mike Tauchman (CHC, LF -- 2%) at Mikolas
Mark Canha (NYM, LF -- 4%) vs. Gray
Worst Sub-50% Rostered Hitters for Thursday
Keibert Ruiz (WSH, C -- 55%) at Senga
Steven Kwan (CLE, LF -- 93%) at Cease
Andres Gimenez (CLE, 2B -- 56%) at Cease
Eloy Jimenez (CHW, LF -- 68%) vs. Bibee
The BAT X's Best Stacks for Thursday
Prop of the day
Chicago White Sox, Dylan Cease 5.5 strikeouts (-145/+115)
THE BAT sees Cease putting up 5.3 Strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 43.8% of the time.
THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $20.85.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
Cease projects as the 11th-best starting pitcher in the league right now when estimating his strikeout talent, according to the leading projection system (THE BAT).
Cease has averaged 95.9 adjusted pitches per game per started this year, placing in the 88th percentile.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
Per the leading projection system (THE BAT X), the team with the least strikeout-heavy lineup today is the Cleveland Guardians with a 18% underlying K%.
The leading projection system (THE BAT) ranks Guaranteed Rate Field as the 4th-worst park in the league for strikeouts.
As far as temperature and humidity are concerned, the most suitable pitching weather on the schedule is expected for this game.
Dylan Cease's fastball velocity has fallen 1.2 mph this year (94.9 mph) below where it was last season (96.1 mph).