MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Friday, June 2

MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Friday, June 2 article feature image

Photo by Suzanna Mitchell/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images. Pictured: LaMonte Wade Jr. (Giants)

We've been on a massive heater this week, with a clean sweep yesterday to bring our record on the week to 15-5.

Let's finish strong with a full slate of Friday games and bets.

The Model

The process is relatively simple. First, I start by assuming that the full game (implied) run totals for either team are roughly efficient. That tends to be the case more often than not. This saves me the trouble of trying to predict the total runs scored in the game — and allows me to focus strictly on the "when" rather than "how many."

Next, I built a database of pitchers performance the first time through the order, relative to their overall stats. Since the latter is presumably baked into the full game total, I wanted to figure out if those runs are more likely to come early or late.

Most — but not all — MLB starters do somewhat better early in games, but with some variance in just how much. The model uses xFIP (expected Fielding Independent Pitching) as the ERA predictor of choice.

That's only half of the equation, though, with the offenses making up the other half. To do this, I looked at what percentage of a team's total runs is produced by the top three batters in the lineup.

While a first inning run scored, by definition, needs at least four hitters to come to the plate, one of the first three has to actually score it. The metric of choice here is wRC+, based on the projected lineup for the day from each team.

This is a bit of a tradeoff, as lineups (and run totals) can shift throughout the day, especially if significant contributors miss time. However, in my experience the inefficiency of the morning lines more than makes up for the leakage in the model.

With that said, exercise caution if, say, Mike Trout is listed as questionable for the nights game.

The Picks

With all of the picks below, I'll include the pick, the best line and the threshold I'd bet it to. These will go up in the morning, so if any major news breaks between publishing and when you read it, be sure to consider that.

Infrequently, rather than betting on the traditional YRFI/NRFI, the pick will be on one team or the other specifically to score a run, which as of this writing is only a betting option at DraftKings.

Since the model handles each team individually, sometimes one team is projecting for a greater proportion of the "run equity" in the first inning than the betting lines are accounting for.

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NRFI Odds, Picks for Friday, June 2

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals NRFI: We're getting a good line here thanks to the nine-run game total. However, both pitchers have solid first-time-through-the-order stats, and these teams rank 29th and 30th in terms of the percent of their production from the top three hitters.

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates YRFI: This game has an even higher total at 9.5, with both teams ranking roughly average in top-three hitters production. Both starters have solid first-time-through-the-order splits, but not enough to overcome the other factors.

Colorado Rockies vs. Kansas City Royals YRFI: This is another 9.5-run total game, though this one features two relatively poor offenses overall. On the plus side, they both get a fairly high proportion of their offense from the top of their respective lineups.

Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros NRFI: We have a strength-on-strength matchup here, with two teams I generally prefer to bet YRFIs on meeting two pitchers I love to bet NRFIs on. Both Shohei Ohtani and Framber Valdez have excellent first-time-through-the-order numbers, and should have the stuff to deal with all the star hitters they'll be facing in the first inning.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees YRFI: It's Clayton Kershaw vs. Luis Severino in L.A. tonight, a matchup that sounds better for the NRFI, on paper.

The model likes the yes runs side though, mainly because at this point in his career Kershaw has become a "feel" pitcher who gets better deeper into games.

Severino has a 1.59 ERA through two starts, but has xFIP and SIERA numbers in the mid fours, so regression could be looming for him, as well.

Baltimore Orioles vs. San Francisco Giants YRFI: This is my favorite bet on the slate tonight considering the odds. I'm shocked we're getting plus money here, as both teams are two of the more "top heavy" offenses. Neither pitcher is especially dominant their first time through the order either.

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