Thursday brings a light schedule consisting of just nine games. Only five of them will make up the main evening slate on Yahoo, leaving us with even fewer options. With that in mind, here are some pitchers and hitters to consider.
Justin Steele ($43) has been fantastic for the Cubs, recording a 2.80 ERA that is backed by a 3.12 FIP. He has only given up 0.7 HR/9 and his 5.1 percent walk rate is on pace to be the best mark of his career. Up next is a great matchup against the Pirates, who only have a .701 OPS against left-handed pitchers.
The Diamondbacks are another team that struggles against lefties. They only have a .716 OPS against them, compared to a .752 OPS versus righties. Looking to take advantage of those splits will be Brandon Williamson ($34), who has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his last nine starts. That included an outing against the Diamondbacks in which he gave up only one run over six innings.
The Twins are yet another team that performs poorly against lefties. They have a .751 OPS against right-handed pitchers, but just a .687 OPS versus southpaws. That could make Andrew Heaney ($34) worth the risk in tournament play. Heaney could also provide added production in the strikeout department, given that the Twins have struck out the most times in baseball.
Zack Gelof ($24) has wasted no time making a big impact for the Athletics. He has nine home runs and eight stolen bases to go along with his .961 OPS over 34 games. Trying to slow him down will be Jesse Scholtens ($28), who has moved into the starting rotation after the White Sox traded away a couple of starters. He has a 1.41 WHIP over four outings since being moved into that role.
Staying with the Athletics, Ryan Noda ($15) is also a viable option. After missing a month with a jaw injury, he is 2-for-5 with two walks over three games since making his return. He strikes out a lot, but that might not be as much of a concern against Scholtens, who has just a 16.9 percent strikeout rate. Noda also draws a ton of walks, posting a 17.7 percent walk rate.
The Orioles recently had to shuffle around their starting rotation. They had to move Dean Kremer up to pitch Wednesday after Jack Flaherty was scratched because of general soreness. They will turn to Kyle Gibson ($32) to start Thursday, who is on five days rest. He has struggled over his last two starts, though, allowing 13 runs over 10.1 innings. Two appealing hitters within the Blue Jays' lineup who have cheaper salaries are Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($13) and George Springer ($12). Guerrero has a .362 OBP over his last 16 games and Springer is batting 19-for-55 (.345) with two home runs and four doubles over his last 14 games.
Stacks to Consider
As of early Thursday morning, the Pirates had yet to officially name their starter for this game. They could roll with Andre Jackson, who has started in both of his last two appearances and is on normal rest. Over two outings in that role, he has given up five runs and two home runs across eight innings. He faced the Cubs in relief twice previously, allowing a total of seven runs and five home runs over five innings. His propensity for giving up the long ball could be particularly troublesome against Bellinger, who has already gone deep 20 times this season. Even if Jackson doesn't officially start, the Cubs could thrive if the Pirates roll with a bullpen-game approach.
The White Sox have the third-worst OPS in baseball, but any pitcher who has a 1.68 WHIP over 105 innings is someone to stack against. This right-handed trio all stand out for their matchup with Waldichuk. Each brings power to the plate, which is noteworthy because Waldichuk has given up 1.5 HR/9. Robert has really roughed up lefties this season, posting a .269 ISO and a .405 wOBA against them.