MLB DFS Picks, Spotlight Pitchers & Top Stacks: BoSox Boppers vs. LHP Ben Lively! (April 17)

Wednesday is getaway day with most of the league playing this afternoon. The main sites of DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo each have their own interpretation of featured slates, so be sure to know the nuances for your site of choice. Before we get to our MLB DFS picks, as always, we will use Stokastic’s tools to help in identifying today’s MLB DFS stacks, key pitchers and daily fantasy baseball lineups. Look to Cristopher Sanchez and Luis Severino as key arms, with the Red Sox and Royals offenses shaping up as the stacks to lean on for their respective slates.

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks | April 17

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers

Main Slate Primary Pitching Target: RHP Cristopher Sanchez vs. Colorado Rockies — 3.4 implied runs

First Pitch: 6:05 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $8,000 | FanDuel $8,100 | Yahoo $42

The Stokastic Top Pitchers Tool has LHP Reid Detmers, RHP Zack Littell and LHP Cristopher Sanchez as the top half of the six-pitcher player pool for the evening action. The first two hurlers are squaring off at pitching-friendly Tropicana Field, while Sanchez gets the cherry matchup against the pathetic Rockies, who are dreadful away from Coors Field.

Colorado has struggled against right-handed pitching for years, but this iteration of the team is also horrid against southpaws. The projected lineup has a 33.5% strikeout rate against left-handed pitching since the beginning of last season. Think about that again: The team strikes out nearly one out of every three plate appearances against lefties.

Sanchez has respectable strikeout stuff, but this matchup has the potential to elevate him into a Cy Young candidate, at least for one day. Leadoff man Ezequiel Tovar and cleanup hitter Elehuris Montero are the “toughest” hitters he will be facing, but they also have struck out 31.4% and 36.4% of the time against opposite-handed hurlers, dating back to the beginning of 2023. Enjoy!

Early Slate Primary Pitching Target: RHP Luis Severino vs. Pittsburgh Pirates — 3.4 implied runs

First Pitch: 1:10 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $7,300 | FanDuel $8,400 | Yahoo $35

There is some rain in the forecast for later this afternoon, though it looks to be arriving after the game and almost assuredly late enough to not impact Luis Severino while he is on the mound. Both DraftKings and Yahoo have assigned a favorable cap hit to Severino this afternoon, which has him shaping up to be among the most popular pitchers on the sites that require DFS gamers to roster a pair.

Severino is well known to fantasy gamers, having made his MLB debut with the Yankees in the 2015 season, which was the heyday of DraftKings and FanDuel. He is no longer in the Bronx, but he remained in the Big Apple after signing a one-year, $13 million deal with the Mets. Tommy John surgery and the subsequent rehabilitation kept him out of the 2020 season, and during his MiLB rehabilitation stint in 2021, he also suffered a groin strain. He finally saw action in late 2021, but in 2022 injuries got him again, this time with a strained right lat.

In summary, since the start of the 2021 season, Severino has logged just 212.1 innings and 45 appearances. This year everything has been going his way and he has a 10.2 strikeout rate per nine innings, with just two longballs allowed across 15 frames. He is now in his age-30 season, but at this point of the year, he is still healthy and relatively fresh.

Pittsburgh has decent power, but the overall projected lineup also has a lot of strikeouts, with four hitters whiffing at a 27.2% rate or higher against right-handed hurlers since the beginning of the 2023 season. This recommendation is more about the salary and matchup than the actual veracity of Severino’s likely upside. It is hard to recommend him on FanDuel because it would be a surprise to see him pitch beyond the fifth inning, which in turn would not allow the venerable veteran the opportunity to qualify for the quality start, thus missing out on crucial bonus points.

MLB DFS Picks: Top Stacks

Main Slate Primary Target: Boston Red Sox vs. RHP Ben Lively — 5.2 implied runs

First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

The Stokastic Top Stacks Tool is thrilled to see that RHP Ben Lively has caught on with a new team this season. The baseball vagabond has had quite the journey of a career. The fun began back in 2010 when he was a 26th-round draft pick by Cleveland, though young Ben ultimately decided to take the college route, embarking on a three-season stint with the University of Central Florida. He improved his stock enough to be drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft by Cincinnati, starting out with the rookie-league team in Dayton. Our hero kicked around the low minors for the next couple of seasons before being dealt to Philadelphia for outfielder Marlon Byrd.

Lively then worked his way through the higher levels of the MiLB system for the Phillies, ultimately making his debut in The Show during the 2017 season. These 15 starts spanning 88.2 innings, resulted in mostly average performances. However, in 2018 he spontaneously combusted and failed so miserably in his five starts that Philadelphia designated him for assignment in early September. Two days later, after he cleared waivers, the Kansas City Royals claimed him for some late-season bullpen work.

2019 began with Lively plying his craft with the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers. He was then promoted to the big club, only to be traded to Arizona for the proverbial bag of baseballs. Sadly, he never made it above the Triple-A Reno Aces before being released. Then it was three seasons in the KBO before Cincinnati came calling again in 2022 in his age-31 season. The Reds used him as a spot starter and reliever for 88.2 innings, cutting him at the end of the year. That brings us to today, with Cleveland signing Lively for a second tour.

This will likely be Lively’s last hurrah, so enjoy stacking against him while there is still time! Ultimately, power to lefties and an overall lack of strikeout stuff with few ground balls mean Lively is friends to all opposing hitters. Boston is banged up, with Rafael Devers dealing with a sore left knee and Tyler O’Neill close to clearing the concussion protocol. If that duo is in the lineup, they are core options, along with Jarren Duran, Tristan Casas and Masataka Yoshida. If one or both are out, it could open the door for the likes of Wilyer Abreu, Enmanuel Valdez and human wind machine Bobby Dalbec.

Early Slate Primary Target: Kansas City Royals at RHP Jonathan Cannon — 5.1 implied runs

First Pitch: 2:10 p.m. ET

This afternoon, RHP Jonathan Cannon will be making his MLB debut in Game 1 of the doubleheader between the Royals and White Sox. Cannon was selected in the third round of the 2022 MLB Draft, and this season he saw his first action at the Triple-A level. He rates out as the 10th-best prospect in the Chicago farm system, though he is not on any industry lists. Cannon profiles as an innings-eater; however, he still needs experience and something resembling an “out” pitch. He will likely be sent back down to Triple-A Charlotte tomorrow, but this afternoon he is someone to target.

Kansas City has been solid offensively for the early portion of the season with a top-10 107 wRC+, and the 20 steals for the Royals are the fourth most in the league. Bobby Witt Jr. has all the makings of a superstar, while Vinnie Pasquantino and Nelson Velasquez continue to punish mistakes by opposing hurlers as they continue to gain valuable experience.

MJ Melendez is effective at the plate when he is not inside his own head, and, of course, leadoff man Maikel Garcia, veteran slugger Hunter Renfroe and catcher Freddy Fermin can be used to round out full stacks.

Other DFS and Sports Wagering Opportunities

Andrew Abbott definitely has strikeout stuff, but the Seattle Mariners do a good job of limiting the K’s for opposing lefties. That makes the under for his 5.5 strikeouts prop a wager to target today. OddsShopper shows this bet has +111 “true odds,” and the +125 line currently available at Hard Rock provides a stellar 6.5% expected return on investment (ROI).

It is important to note that the probability of Abbott recording fewer than five strikeouts is less than half the time at 47%. That is why it is crucial to get this wager at plus money.

This will be the third start of the season for Abbott, and while he has not topped four strikeouts and has collected only 11 in 17.1 innings, he still has the underlying talent to reach the six strikeouts needed to crest over the threshold. He has increased his pitch count from 90 to 95 and finally logged 103 in his appearance last Friday. Across his 21 starts in 2023, the 24-year-old lefty had 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, with nine games of six or more strikeouts and five games of five.

The projected Seattle lineup has a 17.4% strikeout rate against lefties since the start of last year, though Julio Rodriguez, switch-hitting catcher Cal Raleigh and infielder Luis Urias each have a 30% K rate or higher in that timeframe.

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Final Thoughts for Wednesday, April 17 — MLB DFS Picks

Once more it is the Midwest with Detroit being a spot to watch for the early-afternoon slate. These teams also play each other tomorrow, so there is always a bailout opportunity if there is not a window for the game today or tonight. Philadelphia has rain throughout the day, though the coverage lessens in the late afternoon and early evening. If the system is sluggish or the coverage does not thin, this game has the highest risk of a delay and even a postponement on the later slate. Be sure to check in with your favorite DFS meteorological resources closer to first pitch.

Before you finalize your MLB DFS picks, check out today’s Stokastic MLB Live Before Lock Show at 12 p.m. ET, brought to you by Sleeper – new users, use this link to receive a $500 first deposit match! Full details here.


Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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