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What you need to know for Thursday’s MLB Games

By Mike Sheets

  • Thursday’s slate initially featured 10 games, but snow in the forecast for Minnesota and severe weather forecasted in Baltimore prompted the Twins to push their home opener against the Astros and for the Orioles to reschedule their game versus the Yankees. Both games will be played Friday afternoon, which had originally been scheduled as off-days for all four teams.

  • Filling in for an injured Justin Verlander, Tylor Megill (3% rostered in ESPN leagues) pitched reasonably well in his season debut, holding the Miami Marlins to two runs over five frames while fanning seven. The right-hander gets another favorable draw on Thursday, as he faces off against a largely unintimidating Miami Marlins lineup in the pitcher-friendly Citi Field. In addition to being a good bet to pick up a win here, Megill also carries some nice strikeout potential against a Miami team that features a lot of swing and miss.

  • When closer Raisel Iglesias went down with shoulder inflammation prior to the start of the season, A.J. Minter and Joe Jimenez were the favorites to handle ninth-inning duties. After finishing Monday’s 8-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals and then notching his first save of the season in Tuesday’s 4-1 victory, Minter is clearly the name to roster in the Atlanta Braves bullpen. Rostered in just 34% of leagues, Minter is an easy pickup right now, as there’s currently no timetable for Iglesias’ return.

  • Not surprisingly, the game with the most offensive potential resides in Coors Field, where Thursday’s two lowest-ranked hurlers — Josiah Gray and Kyle Freeland — are set to square off. Needless to say, this is a great spot to stream hitters. Charlie Blackmon (37%), Jurickson Profar (19%), and Ryan McMahon (16%) are names to consider for the Colorado Rockies, while Joey Meneses (33%), Lane Thomas (5%) and Jeimer Candelario (5%), all of whom will have the platoon advantage against Freeland, deserve consideration on the Washington Nationals side.

  • With right-hander Merrill Kelly on the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, James Outman (14%) should be in the starting lineup for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 25-year-old has already made a strong first impression, hitting .286/.474/.786 over his first six games with a homer, a steal, five runs, and five RBI. After producing a .294/.392/.586 triple slash line with 31 dingers and 13 steals between Double- and Triple-A last season, Outman clearly has an intriguing fantasy profile. If he continues to hit, he’ll continue to play, and with that will come fantasy value, especially in daily leagues where you can sit Outman when the Dodgers face a southpaw.

  • Chris Sale‘s 2023 debut certainly left something to be desired (7 ER in 3 IP), but it wasn’t all bad. After appearing in just two games in 2022, Sale first just needed to prove that he is healthy, and he did that in his first start. He averaged 94.2 mph with his fastball (and topped out at 97.2 mph), which is close to where he was in 2017 (94.4 mph) and 2018 (94.7 mph), when he was one of the top pitchers in baseball. He also generated 13 swings and misses. Sale obviously needs to do a much better job locating, but there’s hope for a rebound performance on Thursday, when he’ll take on a Detroit Tigers team that’s struggled to generate runs in the early going, scoring just 16 times over their first five games.

Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday

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