Cubs vs Cardinals NRFI, YRFI Picks | How to Find Value Despite Juiced Number in London Series Game (June 24)
Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images. Pictured: London Stadium
The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals meet for a two-game series at London Stadium beginning on Saturday. The London Series will be MLB's first trip to the country since 2019, when the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox squared off.
If you recall what happened four years ago, many are expecting another set of high-scoring games. The Red Sox and Yankees combined for 50 runs over two games that time around, and sportsbooks are expecting a similarly high-scoring series once again.
The total for Saturday's game has sat pretty steadily in the 14-14.5 range after opening at 13.5 at most sportsbooks on Friday morning. The center field wall at London Stadium was moved back a bit since that last series, but run-scoring conditions are still expected to be ripe.
The market I've been focused on all season is the NRFI / YRFI market. If you're unfamiliar, you can bet on whether there will be a run scored in the first inning of any individual game, giving bettors an instant sweat and — with some luck — instant gratification.
Given the unique run-scoring environment at London Stadium this weekend, how should we approach the NRFI/YRFI bets?
As you might expect, the YRFI (Yes Runs – First Inning) is incredibly juiced. As of this writing (late Friday night), yes runs is -200 or worse at most sportsbooks. There's no value there.
However, you can increase your odds a bit by taking a different approach. Instead of betting "yes" on a run being scored (or over 0.5 runs, as most sportsbooks list it), you can bet over 1.5 runs to be scored at much more appealing odds.
Sean Zerillo broke down Saturday's matchup in detail, which you can read about here, and set the total at 14.26 with a run-scoring environment about 60% higher than an average MLB game.
Both pitchers — Adam Wainwright for St. Louis and Justin Steele for Chicago — are right around league average in their first time through the order, and neither team grades out more or less than average in terms of being top-heavy, so the edge here on over 1.5 runs is based on Zerillo's total projection.
More sportsbooks will likely open this market in the morning, so be sure to shop around. Regardless of where you find it, I see value in over 1.5 runs in the first inning at +110 or better.
Pick: Over 1.5 First Inning Runs (+110 or Better)