Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

Pitching well of late, Seattle Mariners pitcher righty Chris Flexen draws a strong matchup on Thursday. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

With only nine games on tap, this is one of the slimmer Thursday slates in quite some time. As a result, there aren't a bevy of reliable arms to turn to for streaming purposes. Of course, a lack of trustworthy hurlers usually means there are plenty of quality hitting matchups you can exploit, and that's certainly the case here.

Here are Thursday's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in fewer than 50% of ESPN leagues.


Kwang Hyun Kim (L), rostered in 38% of ESPN leagues, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs: Fantasy managers have been slow to buy into Kim, perhaps because of the underwhelming 18.2% strikeout rate. Even so, the left-hander has delivered a 2.87 ERA across 16 starts this season, driven by his success limiting hard contact. Kim has been stellar of late, holding opponents to one or zero runs in six of his last seven games, culminating in a 1.64 ERA over that seven-start stretch. Thursday's matchup against the Cubs, who appear to be in "sell" mode as we approach next week's trade deadline, has Kim in another favorable spot. Over the last month, the Cubs have been a bottom-five offense, putting up an 87 wRC+ and an MLB-worst 28.1% K rate.

Adbert Alzolay (R), 16%, Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals: While the Cubs offense has been tanking of late, the Cardinals haven't been much better. They've been tough to strike out over the last 30 days (18.5% K rate), but they've been doing very little in terms of run production, producing a .306 wOBA that ranks fourth-worst in the National League. For his part, Alzolay has been up and down this season, but the underlying numbers are solid. Although the righty has had trouble keeping the ball in the park, Busch Stadium does a good job suppressing homers.

Chris Flexen (R), 61%, Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics: Flexen comes in above our 50% threshold, but Jordan Montgomery and Andrew Heaney have difficult matchups, and I'm having a hard time talking myself into streaming Cal Quantrill or Josh Fleming, so I'm sticking with the Seattle righty. Flexen's rostered percentage has been on the rise, and it's easy to see why, as he's delivered a 1.36 ERA over his last six starts. Flexen is getting by with terrific command rather than missing bats, so he doesn't have a huge margin for error. That said, the A's have been a middle-of-the-road offense against right-handed pitching this season and they've struggled in July (86 wRC+), so Thursday's matchup isn't one to avoid.


With how well Flexen has been pitching of late, there's a decent chance the Mariners will see a save opportunity on Thursday. Kendall Graveman, available in nearly 60% of ESPN leagues, owns a 0.87 ERA over his last 10 appearances and is likely still manager Scott Servais' go-to man in the ninth inning. That said, Paul Sewald is another name to keep in mind. While he's likely behind Graveman in the pecking order, he has three saves this season to go along with his 2.00 ERA and 15.7 K/9.

For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.


Catcher -- Mitch Garver (R), 31%, Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney): Garver came off the IL on Monday, and he immediately clubbed two homers in his first game back. The Minnesota backstop now has 10 dingers in just 42 games this season, and his 141 wRC+ ranks him top-three at the catcher position (min. 120 PA). In short, Garver needs to be on more rosters. On Thursday, he draws the platoon edge against Heaney, who has put up an ERA north of 5.23 in every month this season.

First Base -- Miguel Sano (R), 44%, Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney): Given Heaney's recent struggles, we're doubling up on Twins bats on Thursday. Sano is an all-or-nothing hitter, but this is the type of matchup where he should thrive. Heaney has had trouble keeping the ball in the yard, and when Sano makes contact, it's loud contact, illustrated by his 50.7% hard-hit rate (90th percentile) and 15% barrel rate (92nd percentile).

Second Base -- Rougned Odor (L), 2%, New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox (RHP Tanner Houck): Like Sano, Odor's production tends to come in waves. Fortunately, the slugger is in the midst of one of his surges, hitting .318/.400/.636 with four homers in his last 16 games. He's also been batting third against both righties and lefties, which is a fine spot for fantasy production. With Tuesday's rainout for the Red Sox, Houck's first start since returning from Triple-A was pushed up a day, giving Odor the platoon bump on the rookie.

Third Base -- Patrick Wisdom (R), 25%, Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals (LHP Kwang Hyun Kim): Wisdom has slowed down since his homer barrage in May and June, but he's still providing plenty of power by clubbing three longballs in his last seven contests, giving him 14 on the season. While Kim has done a good job limiting homers, Wisdom sports a .376 wOBA versus left-handers this season.

Shortstop -- Miguel Rojas (R), 20%, Miami Marlins vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Blake Snell): The fantasy community has been waiting for Snell to get back on track, but it just hasn't happened. He's been most susceptible to right-handed batters, who have put up a .385 wOBA against him this season. Meanwhile, Rojas has smashed southpaws, hitting .365/.438/.518 against them.

Corner Infield -- Ty France (R), 47%, Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics (LHP Sean Manaea): France has been flat-out raking for a month now. Over his last 32 games, he's batting .322/.390/.525 with six dingers, 17 runs and 20 RBI. Manaea has been very good this season, but he's been roughed up a bit lately and is less effective against righty bats.

Middle Infield -- Paul DeJong (R), 39%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs (RHP Adbert Alzolay): It's taken almost all season, but DeJong's bat is finally starting to come around. Over his last 18 games, the St. Louis shortstop has produced a .346/.443/.673 slash line with five home runs and 11 RBI. DeJong has been batting seventh in the Cardinals lineup, but he could move up to the heart of the order soon.

Outfield -- Brandon Marsh (L), 7%, Los Angeles Angels at Minnesota Twins (RHP Kenta Maeda): Many fantasy managers have been waiting the arrival of Jo Adell, but instead they got Marsh, who was promoted on Sunday. A former second-round pick, Marsh doesn't have Adell's power, but he still possesses a nice skill set, mixing in plus speed with strong on-base skills and a splash of pop. The rookie draws the platoon edge against Maeda on Thursday.

Outfield -- Enrique Hernandez (R), 38%, Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees (LHP Jordan Montgomery): Even with the promotion of Jarren Duran, Hernandez has remained Boston's leadoff hitter. And frankly, it's easy to see why. Hernandez has a 1.071 OPS over his last 18 games, including seven dingers and a .410 OBP. He gets the platoon advantage against Montgomery, who owns a 5.32 road ERA this season.

Outfield -- Derek Hill (R), under 1%, Detroit Tigers vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Mike Foltynewicz): Hill has quickly put himself on the fantasy radar, thanks to his six stolen bases in just 11 games. He's not necessarily entrenched as an everyday player just yet, but he has elite wheels and plays good defense in the outfield, which should help him play regularly. In addition to the speed, Hill has also shown a bit of pop and good on-base skills in the minors, so he's at least a name to monitor in the coming weeks.