Last Thursday was a wasteland if you were streaming pitching, and this Thursday's 10-game slate isn't much better. If you insist on streaming a starter or two, you need to be OK with taking on some risk.
Detroit's Matt Manning is a perfect example. The Tigers are expected to call up the former first-round pick for Thursday's matchup against the Angels. While the 23-year-old is regarded as one of the game's top pitching prospects, he owns an ugly 8.07 ERA over seven starts at Triple-A. In standard formats, it's probably too early to insert him into the streamer discussion.
Here's a look at Thursday's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in less than 50% of ESPN leagues.
Wade Miley (L), rostered in 52% of ESPN leagues, Cincinnati Reds at San Diego Padres: Miley isn't necessarily a hurler who you get excited about inserting into your starting lineup, but he consistently gets the job done. The veteran lefty has allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven of his last eight starts, and his 2.92 ERA is backed up by a 2.96 FIP and 3.46 xFIP. Miley has never been a big strikeout guy, but his 2.5 BB/9 is his best walk rate since 2012 and his 56.8% ground ball rate is a career high. While the Padres' offense is imposing on paper, they've been held in check by left-handers this season, ranking bottom-3 with an 81 wRC+ against them.
Justin Dunn (R), 5%, Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have a top-four wRC+ (117) over the last 30 days, so you shouldn't go out of your way to stream Dunn on Thursday. However, if you're looking for justification to start the Seattle right-hander, he is whiffing nearly a batter per inning and has held opponents to three or fewer runs in all but one of his 10 starts this season. Dunn is also toeing the rubber at the pitcher-friendly T-Mobile Park, where he owns a 2.95 ERA this season. The Rays aren't going to make things easy for him, though.
Eli Morgan (R), fewer than 1%, Cleveland vs. Baltimore Orioles: With Zac Gallen surprisingly being activated to pitch on Thursday, bumping Caleb Smith to Friday, we're suddenly short one starting pitcher recommendation. The choices came down to Morgan or the previously mentioned Manning. With the plight of pitchers making their 2021 debuts, combined with Manning's struggles at the Triple-A level, Morgan gets the nod. The decision is also based on the opponent as Morgan faces a much lower-ranked Orioles lineup while Manning has to contend with an Angels unit continuing to be productive even without Mike Trout. Also, Morgan draws Jorge Lopez while Manning debuts against Shohei Ohtani. Looking for wins is dangerous, but sometimes necessary in head-to-head play.
On one hand, Tampa Bay's bullpen is super frustrating because we don't know who's going to get the save chance on any given night. On the other hand, it creates an opportunity to steal a save here and there. While Diego Castillo is the favorite to handle the ninth inning on most nights, Pete Fairbanks, available in 85% of leagues, has actually secured two of the Rays' last three saves. Whether he gets the next save chance is anyone's guess, but on a day with so few starting pitcher options, you can do worse than take a stab at Fairbanks, who has gone 11 straight appearances without allowing a run.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Max Stassi (R), 19%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Matt Manning): Stassi has been on a tear since the beginning of June, hitting .389/.463/.833 with four dingers and four doubles in 11 games. Manning, who is making his big-league debut, will have his hands full with the top of the Angels lineup
First base -- Rowdy Tellez (L), 3%, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (RHP Michael King): Tellez will be in the lineup on Thursday with a righty on the mound. The slugger's .627 OPS is obviously lackluster, but he sports an 85% hard-hit rate and 85% barrel rate, so better times should be ahead.
Second base -- Jonathan India (R), 35%, Cincinnati Reds at San Diego Padres (RHP Joe Musgrove): Locked in as the Reds' leadoff hitter, India is in a great spot for fantasy production, batting in front of Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos. Since June 1, he's hitting .357/.481/.595 with two homers, two steals, and the same number of walks (9) as strikeouts (9).
Third base -- Jonathan Villar (S), 34%, New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs (RHP Kyle Hendricks): I've been banging the drum for Villar quite a bit over the last few weeks, and there's no reason to stop now. Over his last 20 games, he's batting .282/.363/.507 with four homers and four stolen bases. Power/speed threats aren't very prevalent on the waiver wire, so take advantage of this one.
Shortstop -- Amed Rosario (R), 46%, Cleveland vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Jorge Lopez): Like Villar, Rosario has been doing a little bit of everything at the dish of late, batting .361/.418/.506 over his last 22 games with a pair of homers and four steals. On Thursday, he draws one of the better matchups of the day, squaring off against Lopez and his 5.64 ERA.
Corner infield -- Daniel Vogelbach (L), 4%, Milwaukee Brewers at Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): Speaking of good matchups, Vogelbach carries the platoon edge into Coors Field on Thursday. It doesn't get much better than that. The lefty swinger has a 1.090 OPS so far in June, and Marquez is coming off his worst start of the season, a nine-run pounding from the Reds last Saturday.
Middle infield -- Willi Castro (S), 11%, Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Shohei Ohtani): Castro has been a disappointment for those who thought he would build off his breakout performance from 2020, but he's slowly coming around. His last 15 games have seen him hit .310/.392/.548, and all five of his homers this season have come against right-handed pitching.
Outfield - Dylan Moore (R), 43%, Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Rich Hill): Moore may be hitting only .182, but you don't always need to find well-balanced hitters when you're streaming. Sometimes just getting one standout skill is enough. The standout skill with Moore is his wheels. He's swiped nine bags in 44 games this season, which puts him close to a 30-SB pace over a full season. The fact that he's also on pace for close to 20 homers doesn't hurt, either.
Outfield -- Yonathan Daza (R), 7%, Colorado Rockies vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Brandon Woodruff): The Rockies' lineup has lots of moving parts, but Daza has been in the lineup every day for the last week. Not only that, but he's batted second each of the last four days. Even without an overly exciting skill set, Daza is in a great spot for fantasy production.
Outfield -- Miguel Andujar (R), 24%, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP T.J. Zeuch): Andujar has been largely irrelevant in fantasy since hitting .297 with 27 homers back in 2018, but perhaps we're seeing the beginning of a bounceback. Over his last 11 games, he's batting .317 with five home runs. He's a worth a look in leagues where he's available.