MLB DFS Picks, Spotlight Pitchers & Top Stacks: Target a Trio of Lefties Led by Cole Ragans (May 17)

Friday brings a tantalizing 13-game featured slate with a 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch on DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo. Before we get to our MLB DFS picks, as always, we will use Stokastic’s tools to help identify today’s MLB DFS stacks, key pitchers and daily fantasy baseball lineups. Look to Cole Ragans, Nestor Cortes and Kyle Harrison as Thursday’s aces, with the Rangers as a core stack and the Giants providing differentiation.

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

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers

Main Slate Primary Pitching Target: LHP Cole Ragans vs. Oakland Athletics — 4.0 implied runs

First Pitch: 7:40 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $9,200 | FanDuel $9,600 | Yahoo $44

The Stokastic Top Pitchers Tool has been giving plenty of options to rank, so this is an easier decision process today. First up is LHP Cole Ragans against the Oakland Athletics. The 26-year-old southpaw was roughed up by the Angels in Anaheim on Saturday, allowing seven runs, though only nine baserunners. He had a season-low three strikeouts, but aside from one other seven-run debacle, has allowed two or fewer runs in six of his seven other starts.

The A’s projected lineup has five hitters who have struck out 25% of the time or more against right-handed hitting since the start of last season. While the entire lineup is likely to be right-handed, that has not been too much of a deterrent for Ragans, who has a 29.6% strikeout rate against opposite-handed hitters since the start of last year.

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Main Slate Secondary Pitching Target: LHP Nestor Cortes vs. Chicago White Sox — 3.0 implied runs

First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

DFS Salary: DraftKings $9,400 | FanDuel $9,500 | Yahoo $48

Tonight LHP Nestor Cortes is coming in with a similar salary as Ragans, across the three main MLB DFS sites. “Nasty Nestor” has dealt with injuries over the last couple of seasons, but when his funky delivery is working, he has shown that he can pile up the strikeouts. That is not as consistent from game to game, but the underlying skillset and upside are definitely there.

By now we all know that the teams that are near-automatic targets include the Athletics, Rockies, Nationals, Marlins and White Sox. The ChiSox have four hitters in their projected lineup who have struck out 28.8% or more against lefties over the last 18 months. The team lacks consistent power, and with recently signed Tommy Pham and oft-injured Eloy Jimenez playing prominent roles, this is one of the more dreadful lineups in the league.

Main Slate Wild Card Pitching Target: LHP Kyle Harrison vs. Colorado Rockies — 3.5 implied runs

First Pitch: 10:15 p.m. ET

DFS Salary: DraftKings $8,200 | FanDuel $9,000 | Yahoo $43

Tonight’s trio of recommended lefties is rounded out by LHP Kyle Harrison. He lands in the wild card slot since he has less of a track record than Cortes and Ragans. The one worry is that he has 12 walks in his three May starts, including two games of five. His strikeout potential is not quite as strong as the other duo; however, his run prevention is, and it would appear he is trying to get more ground balls. That could just be noise in the recent data, but at a minimum, it has helped with his home run-allowing tendencies.

Ten days ago, Harrison authored seven scoreless innings in Coors Field, which was good to see. He has six quality starts, and allowed three or fewer runs in every appearance, save for ceding four runs to the Dodgers in Los Angeles. It has been five outings since Harrison last allowed a longball, which is impressive considering he had a career-worst 2.08 per nine last season, though he did throw just 34.2 innings.

MLB DFS Picks: Top Stacks

Main Slate Primary Target: Texas Rangers vs. LHP Tyler Anderson — 5.3 implied runs

First Pitch: 8:05 p.m. ET

The Stokastic Top Stacks Tool has the Texas Rangers as the most popular stack, with a strong probability of also being the most productive. The defending World Champions will be facing LHP Tyler Anderson, who started out the season with a pair of seven-inning shutouts, but things have regressed back to his normal level of mediocrity. Over his last three starts, the 34-year-old lefty has a 4.74 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 15 strikeouts and two home runs allowed in 19 innings.

Anderson has spent three of the last four seasons with teams in the American League West, so several hitters have had decent success against the crafty lefty, with Corey Seager and switch-hitting catcher Jonah Heim being the two most productive. Adolis Garcia crushes lefties, and he and leadoff man Marcus Semien create a fearsome foursome to stack. In a fun twist, Texas also reacquired Robbie Grossman, who found success with the team last season, and the switch-hitting outfielder does his best work from the right side of the plate.

Main Slate Secondary Target: San Francisco Giants vs. RHP Ryan Feltner — 4.0 implied runs

First Pitch: 10:15 p.m. ET

The Giants are getting very little love for the main slate, which is a shame since they rate out as a top-5 value stack across the big three MLB DFS sites. They are facing RHP Ryan Feltner, who has been middling all season with a 5.20 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Even with Coors Field as his home, Feltner has allowed just seven runs in his three starts, including games against the Rangers and Padres, who have good offenses.

Feltner has done a good job with walks this season, but his pedestrian strikeout rate doesn’t do him any favors as he has trouble getting out of jams. Mike Yastrzemski and LaMonte Wade should be in the top part of the order, and with the Rockies having just one lefty reliever in Jalen Beeks, the pinch-hit risk is low tonight. Wilmer Flores and Thairo Estrada have upped their production in same-handed matchups, and they are options to round out full stacks, as is veteran Matt Chapman.

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Other DFS and Sports Wagering Opportunities

After getting not one, but two stolen bases from Bryson Stott in yesterday’s recommendation, we are back to a more traditional wager for Friday. Not only should we target RHP Ryan Feltner with the Giants in the DFS world, but we can also look to his under 4.5 strikeouts prop, which is currently available at plus money on FanDuel.

OddsShopper shows this bet has +102 “true odds,” so the +108 line still brings a decent 3.0% expected ROI. We can also see how crucial it is to shop the odds, as sportsbooks tend to vary wildly with their offerings. This can be seen with Fliff offering -120 by way of comparison.

Feltner is projected for right around four strikeouts tonight, and he has landed on that number in four of his eight starts and recorded three on two occasions. Said a different way, he has thrown five or more strikeouts only twice this season, with the last being one month ago. San Francisco does have a couple of wind machines in Heliot Ramos and catcher Blake Sabol, but the team also has disciplined hitters in Mike Yastrzemski, Thairo Estrada, LaMonte Wade and Wilmer Flores in the top half of the order, who should help Feltner use up his pitch count before getting to five strikeouts.

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Final Thoughts for Friday, May 17 — MLB DFS Picks

Atlanta, Baltimore and Cleveland are the ABCs of where to keep tabs on the forecast, with elevated precipitation risks for all three cities. Be sure to check in with your favorite MLB Weather Report page closer to first pitch for updates.

Before you finalize your MLB DFS picks, check out today’s Stokastic MLB Live Before Lock Show, at 6:00 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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