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. Game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.
For an in-depth look at what to expect in this daily article and how to best use the information, check out our handy primer here.
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
Thursday's abbreviated six-game slate doesn't present us with an overwhelming number of streaming choices, but Jose Quintana (5% rostered in ESPN leagues) is one of the names that stands out. While a matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals, who are above average against lefties, isn't particularly friendly, Quintana has pitched well since making his 2023 debut in mid-July. The veteran southpaw holds a 3.03 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in five outings, with four consecutive quality starts, including six innings of one-run ball against baseball's top offense, the Atlanta Braves, his last time out.
Fellow left-hander Tarik Skubal has also made a strong impression since returning from the IL. His 4.18 ERA across seven starts isn't particularly impressive, but his 2.70 xERA and 2.91 xFIP suggest that he deserves much better. After averaging 94.4 mph on his heater in 2022, he is averaging 96 mph this season, which has led to a career-high 27.7 K%. His 4.6 BB% is a career-best, too. Against a Cleveland Guardians lineup that's been the worst in the AL this season versus left-handed pitching (79 wRC+), Skubal is an easy streaming option on a day when pickings are slim.
Chris Sale (74%) is available in only about a quarter of ESPN leagues, but it's worth noting how good he looked in his first start off the IL last week. Although he surrendered a pair of runs to the Detroit Tigers in 4⅔ frames, he racked up seven strikeouts and no walks. He should have a longer leash on Thursday against a below-average Washington Nationals lineup that's hit the fewest home runs in the NL this season.
It feels like only a matter of time before the Cardinals are forced to remove Adam Wainwright from the rotation, but he's getting at least one more start on Thursday against the New York Mets. It's been a sad run for the veteran righty, who has been tagged for a 14.87 ERA over his past seven outings, including 15 earned runs allowed in his last two starts (four innings). With Wainwright against the ropes, Jeff McNeil (67%), Francisco Alvarez (29%), and Daniel Vogelbach (1%) are all in play as streamers.
After an extended rough patch in May and June that saw James Outman (27%) hit a combined .192/.277/.274, the 26-year-old has quietly bounced back to fantasy relevance, batting .317/.454/.500 with five dingers and six stolen bases over his past 34 games. During that stretch, he's been a top-30 fantasy outfielder, according to the ESPN Player Rater. Outman draws the platoon advantage on Thursday and is a worthy pickup for the stretch run.
Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday
Bullpen usage watch for Thursday
By Todd Zola
Paul Sewald is the latest reliever to record a save on the same day it was advised to reserve him on your fantasy roster. Coming into last night, Sewald had collected a save on three of the previous four days, using 52 pitches in the process. Now, you can make that four saves in five days as Sewald locked down yet another come-from-behind win for the Arizona Diamondbacks, 9-7 on the road, against the Colorado Rockies. With 70 pitches tossed since Saturday, it is hard to envision Sewald pitching for a fifth time in six days. Kevin Ginkel has appeared both of the last two days and Scott McGough has been struggling lately, so it's best to avoid the Diamondbacks bullpen tonight when they open a road series in San Diego.
Speaking of which, Padres closer Josh Hader registered his 27th save last night. In a vacuum, his pitch count of 20 is high, but last night was Hader's first time taking the hill in over a week. As such, he should be able to come back tonight.
Thursday brings us a truncated six-game slate, so most fantasy rosters have holes. One place to look for plugs is at Chavez Ravine, where the Los Angeles Dodgers open a four-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers. Tonight's matchup is Lance Lynn versus Corbin Burnes. On paper, it should be a low-scoring affair with the bullpens playing a key role. Pairing up Brusdar Graterol and Evan Phillips could result in your capturing both a save and a hold from the same game.
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.
Adam Duvall (BOS, CF -- 21%) at Corbin
Cal Raleigh (SEA, C -- 31%) at Zerpa
Rob Refsnyder (BOS, RF -- 0%) at Corbin
Matt Vierling (DET, CF -- 1%) at Curry
Spencer Torkelson (DET, 1B -- 14%) at Curry
Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Thursday
Ha-Seong Kim (SD, SS -- 75%) vs. Gallen
MJ Melendez (KC, C -- 55%) vs. Kirby
Willy Adames (MIL, SS -- 63%) at Lynn
Lane Thomas (WSH, LF -- 68%) vs. Sale
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Thursday
Prop of the Day
Chris Sale, Red Sox, 5.5 strikeouts (-130/+100)
THE BAT X sees Sale putting up 4.7 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 33.6% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $32.84.
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
Sale projects as the sixth-best starting pitcher in MLB when estimating his strikeout talent, per THE BAT X.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
THE BAT X expects Sale to be on a pitch count in today's game, projecting a maximum of 73 pitches.
It is expected that a huge hitter's umpire (Mark Wegner) will be in charge of the strike zone in today's game.
THE BAT X profiles Nationals Park as the sixth-worst ballpark in the game for strikeouts.
A correlation exists between high heat and more offense (and fewer strikeouts), and this game is forecast to have the highest temperatures of the day at 88 degrees.