Friday could be filled with fireworks across the MLB landscape. It just so happens that many teams enter this weekend at the back of their rotations, sending a lot of 4s and 5s into action to kick off the weekend. There are plenty of attractive bats and stacks on the DFS slate, and while there aren’t a lot of great starting pitchers options as a result, there are still some matchups that you can trust. Consider using the picks below and plugging them into our MLB Lineup Optimizer to help fill out the rest of your lineup.
Rick Porcello, at Rangers (FD: $9,000, DK: $10,800)
Porcello had problems keeping hitters in the ballpark last year, allowing a career-high 1.7 HR/9. That went a long way to inflating his ERA to 4.65, which was a run and a half higher than in 2016 Cy Young winning campaign. He’s righted the ship this year, allowing only one home run through 40 1/3 innings. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any start this season and has pitched at least six innings in all but one outing. He hasn’t been an overpowering strikeout pitcher throughout his career, but he’s thrown a first-pitch strike to 69.4% of the batters he has faced this year, helping him record an 8.5 K/9. The Rangers are still missing Elvis Andrus (elbow), Adrian Beltre (hamstring) and Rougned Odor (hamstring), so this could be a great opportunity to take advantage of their depleted lineup with Porcello.
Joey Lucchesi, vs. Dodgers (FD: $8,600, DK: $8,300)
Lucchesi has burst onto the scene for a Padres team that sorely needs starting pitching, recording a 2.78 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 this season. His FIP sits at 3.13 and his .280 BABIP allowed isn’t terribly low, so there is a chance he could come close to sustaining this type of production. He showed strikeout upside in the minors with a 10.1 K/9 in 181 career innings, so there’s reason to believe in the strikeout numbers. The Dodgers lineup has suffered injuries to Justin Turner, Corey Seager and Yasiel Puig, and has the fourth-lowest OPS against left-handed pitchers (.663) in baseball, making Lucchesi someone to consider for your entry.
Francisco Liriano, at Royals (FD: $6,500, DK: $7,000)
Liriano continues to hang around in the Tigers starting rotation and has a 3.38 ERA through five starts. His FIP is 4.49 and opponents have just a .215 BABIP against him, so his ERA might not hold up this well for much longer. The good news is he still provides problems for left-handed hitters, holding them to a .286 wOBA in 2017 and a .127 wOBA so far this season. Some of the Royals best hitters are lefties, which could spell bad news for them Thursday. This will actually be Liriano’s third start of the season against the Royals and he pitched well in the first two matchups, allowing a total of four earned runs to go along with nine strikeouts in 12 innings. If you are looking to go with a more cost-effective starter for your lineup, there is potential for value here with Liriano.
New York Yankees vs. Josh Tomlin, Cleveland Indians
Stadium – Yankee Stadium
Tomlin couldn’t be off to a much worse start, accumulating a 9.16 ERA and 1.93 WHIP across five outings, four of which were starts. He’s been a bit unlucky with opponents recording a .319 BABIP, but he’s not doing himself any favors with just a 4.8 K/9. He’s never been much of a strikeout pitcher with a career 6.1 K/9, which is not good when facing the Yankees lineup. The Yankees are lethal at Yankee Stadium, with the highest home OPS (.859) in baseball this year. A lot of their hitters are pricey, but they provide an excellent stacking opportunity Friday.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Andrew Kittredge, Tampa Bay Rays
Stadium – Tropicana Field
Kittredge is the nominal starter for the Rays, but this is going to be one of their bullpen days. He has made nine appearances this season, but only two of them were starts and he’s only thrown a total of 13 innings overall. The results haven’t been good, either, with a 6.23 ERA and 1.62 WHIP for his efforts. The Rays don’t exactly have a ton of talented arms lined up behind Kittredge, as their 4.78 bullpen ERA this season is among the worst in baseball. There is a chance Justin Smoak will miss this game while on the paternity list, but the Blue Jays still have several other potent bats worth considering for your entry.
Houston Astros vs. Kris Medlen, Arizona Diamondbacks
Stadium – Chase Field
With Robbie Ray (oblique) on the DL, the Diamondbacks will call on Medlen to make his first appearance in the majors since 2016. He only pitched 24 1/3 innings for the Royals that year, finishing with a 7.77 ERA and a 2.06 WHIP. A once-promising young pitcher for the Braves, his second Tommy John surgery, which took place in 2014, derailed his career. He wasn’t exactly pitching well in Triple-A this season, recording a 6.00 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in four starts. A matchup with the defending champs could get ugly in a hurry for Medlen.
Los Angeles Angels vs. Mike Leake, Seattle Mariners
Stadium – Safeco Field
Leake pitched well after the Mariners acquired him from the Cardinals late in the year, but is off to a bad start this season with a 6.48 ERA and 1.53 WHIP across six starts. He’s been hit particularly hard in his last three outings, giving up 17 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. It’s concerning that two of those three outings came against the White Sox and the Indians, two teams that have struggled offensively so far. Leake only has a 5.9 K/9 this season and has never been a big strikeout pitcher in his career, which leaves him with little room for error. The Angels have the seventh-highest OPS (.760) in baseball against right-handed pitching, presenting yet another viable stacking opportunity for your entry Friday.