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What you need to know for Thursday’s MLB Games

By Mike Sheets

  • The headline news for Thursday’s seven-game slate is that Fernando Tatis Jr. is ready to rejoin the San Diego Padres’ lineup after completing his 80-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. During his Triple-A rehab assignment, Tatis feasted on minor league pitching, hitting an absurd .515/.590/1.802 with seven homers, 15 RBI and two steals in just eight games. There remains some injury risk here after Tatis underwent shoulder and wrist surgeries over the winter, but he’s a fantasy superstar when healthy. If he’s on your roster, get him back in your lineup for Thursday’s tilt against Ryne Nelson and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

  • After getting skipped the last time through the Minnesota Twins’ rotation, Kenta Maeda (35% rostered in ESPN leagues) will return to the mound on Thursday versus the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Maeda, who missed the entire 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, still has some rust to shake off, but he racked up nine K’s in his first start and has yet to allow a free pass in 12 frames, so the positives are certainly there for the 35-year-old veteran. In past years, a road start against the Red Sox would be one to avoid, but times have changed. Maeda is a worthwhile streamer on Thursday against a Boston lineup that’s been below average (95 wRC+) against righties this year.

  • Don’t look now, but a Cody Bellinger (44%) rebound may be in the offing. The 27-year-old currently sports a .306/.362/.500 triple slash with three dingers, 11 RBI, 11 runs and three steals in 16 games. Most notably, Bellinger is striking out just 14.7% of the time after whiffing at a 27.3% clip in 2022. His early batted-ball data (28th percentile hard-hit rate) is pretty lackluster, but all in all this is an encouraging start for the former NL MVP, who posted a wRC+ of just 83 last season. Scoop Bellinger up for Thursday’s matchup against Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Michael Grove and keep him on your roster if the production continues.

  • With Ryan Feltner toeing the rubber for the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, there are multiple Philadelphia Phillies bats that belong in the streamer discussion. First on the list is Bryson Stott (32%). Not only is he batting .380 with a home run and three steals in the early going, but he has settled in the leadoff spot for the Phillies, batting ahead of Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber, and carries eligibility at both shortstop and second base. Also consider Brandon Marsh (23%), who has produced a .406/.486/.750 slash line against right-handed pitching thus far. Both players will enjoy the platoon edge against Feltner.

  • An abbreviated slate with few strong starting pitcher streamers is a good time to pick up a reliever or two to grab a few extra strikeouts or perhaps a hold. Looking at the holds leaderboard, Brooks Raley (seven holds), Luis Garcia (five), Drew Smith (five), Colin Holderman (five), Griffin Jax (four), and John Schreiber (four holds) are all suiting up on Thursday, and are all available in at least 95% of ESPN leagues.

Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday

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