MLB daily notes: Fantasy rankings for Thursday

Starting pitchers have found great success taking on the Padres at Petco Park this season. Jacob deGrom is next up, on Thursday. AP Photo/John Amis

In an effort to serve daily fantasy players and seasonlong fantasy players who use daily lineup settings, we present daily notes each day of the season. It's a daily version of our Fantasy Forecaster in which we project the best pitcher game scores, as well as the best team-hitting matchups based upon a number of factors.



It's a one-man show in the Elite tier on Thursday, with Jacob deGrom serving as the headlining act. Although the right-hander's velocity is down this season, his average fastball velocity has increased with each start, and he touched 95 mph his last time out, so he's heading in the right direction. DeGrom is set up for success with a road start against the Padres, who sport the worst wOBA in baseball versus right-handed pitching (.270) while whiffing 27 percent of the time. On a short slate without any other top-tier options, deGrom will be tough to fade in cash games.


The second highest projected Game Score of the day belongs to Jaime Garcia, who gets a home tilt against Philadelphia. On paper, a matchup against the Phillies is awfully enticing. The Phils have been helpless against southpaws this season, evidenced by a .251 wOBA and nearly 30 percent strikeout rate. On the other hand, aside from Garcia's complete game shutout against Milwaukee in mid-April, he owns a 5.2 walk rate and has failed to register a quality start in any of his other four outings. The strikeout rate (10.0 K/9) and ground-ball rate (58 percent) are both terrific, so the pieces are there for Garcia to roll in a matchup like this. That said, while I have no issue with him in cash on a slate like this one, I prefer him in tournaments.

A road start against the Orioles in Camden Yards is far from an ideal scenario. After all, the O's sport a .362 home wOBA this season, the highest mark in baseball. Then again, Masahiro Tanaka has pretty much been matchup-proof in the early going, having allowed two earned runs or fewer in all five of his starts. With a 1.7 walk rate and 60 percent ground ball rate, he has a relatively high floor, even in a hitter-friendly environment like Camden Yards, and he has enough strikeout upside to take advantage of an Orioles lineup that features plenty of swing and miss.

Kyle Hendricks is one of the day's more intriguing cash-game options. Although his 7.4 K/9 rate is down from 2015 (8.4 K/9), he has outstanding control (1.6 BB/9) and keeps the ball on the ground (60 percent ground-ball rate), which gives him a really nice floor. And while his 3.52 ERA is solid, his 2.87 xFIP indicates he's pitched much better than that. Against a Nationals team that has been well below average against righties (74 wRC+), Hendricks offers plenty to like.

Jerad Eickhoff gets a road start against a Cardinals team that leads baseball in both runs and home runs. Still, the Cardinals' offense has been inconsistent of late, scoring one or zero runs in four of their last six games, so he's getting them at a good time. Eickhoff is probably pitching a bit over his head right now, but it's hard to argue with his 9.5 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 over five starts.

After tossing 7 2/3 hitless innings his last time out, Adam Conley draws a home start against the Diamondbacks. The D-backs don't go easy on lefties, as they've put up a .366 wOBA against them this season, though going from Chase Field to Marlins Park is a downgrade for the offense. Conley will be working in five days' rest, but it'll still be interesting to see how the 25-year-old bounces back after throwing 116 pitches his last time out. He's a bit risky for cash games, but his 9.3 K/9 gives him some GPP appeal.


Kevin Gausman, available in 70 percent of leagues, gears up to face a last-place Yankees team that has done little versus right-handed pitching this season (.298 wOBA). The Bronx Bombers aren't a big swing-and-miss team, which limits the righty's GPP appeal. However, Gausman still misses enough bats to matter, and he'll be cheap enough to allow you the cap space to roster multiple premium bats.

Michael Fulmer is set to make his second career big league start after holding the Twins to two runs in five innings in his major league debut. His Thursday opponent, the Indians, have been above average against righties this season, but they're also fanning at a 25 percent clip, something that Fulmer can exploit. It's hard to see Fulmer going very deep into this game, which limits some of his upside, but he still figures to offer plenty of bang for the buck. Fulmer is still available in 89 percent of ESPN leagues.

Despite holding a 0.79 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, Joe Ross is still a free agent in about 35 percent of leagues. Granted, some good luck has played into those numbers, and his 5.6 K/9 leaves much to be desired. Plus, his road matchup against the Cubs, who rank second in baseball in runs scored, is pretty far from ideal. But if you're streaming starters and are willing to take on some risk, there's potential value here.


Derek Holland may hold a 2.48 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over five starts, but he's not a guy I trust enough to unleash against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, arguably the most dangerous matchup for a pitcher this side of Coors Field. Sure, the Jays haven't mashed lefties this year the way we know they're capable of (.303 wOBA). However, this is still an extremely unfavorable spot for a guy who doesn't miss many bats and has not pitched as well as his 2.48 ERA suggests.


If you play a lot of DFS, you know that targeting hitters against Alfredo Simon pays off more than it doesn't. It's unfortunate that the Brewers' lineup is so right-handed heavy, as Simon struggles most against left-handed bats, but even righty hitters like Domingo Santana, Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter are awfully enticing.

Robbie Ray has been hammered by right-handed hitters this season, evidenced by the .426 wOBA they've put up against him. In fact, right-handed Marlins batters score the only perfect 10 hitter rating on the day. If you can afford him, Giancarlo Stanton is one of the day's most intriguing plays.

The Blue Jays' big bats -- Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki -- will all have the platoon advantage against Holland, who has allowed 44 percent fly balls this season. Multiple balls could leave the Rogers Centre on Thursday.

They aren't in Coors Field, but Rockies bats should still be in for a big day against Matt Cain, who owns a 7.00 ERA in five starts this season and has been hammered by left-handed bats (.396 wOBA). Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra are all worthy of consideration.

Most likely to go yard: Giancarlo Stanton

Not really going out on a limb with Stanton, but he's still the most likely to go deep against Ray, who has been crushed by righty hitters this year.

Most likely to swipe a bag: Michael Taylor

The Cubs get picked on a lot in this space, but we're going back to the well again on Thursday, as the Nationals receive the only perfect 10 steals rating. Taylor is the most likely to take advantage.