MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Tuesday, June 6
Denis Poroy/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Musgrove
We got the week started right, with a 2-1 day on a quiet Monday slate.
All 30 MLB teams are back in action on Tuesday, so we have a few more bets today including some juicy plus-money options.
The process is relatively simple. First, I start by assuming that the full game (implied) run totals for either team are roughly efficient. As mentioned above, 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 night's game.
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.
NRFI Odds, Picks for Tuesday, June 6th
Kansas City Royals vs. Miami Marlins NRFI: I was hoping for a better price on this pick, but it still falls within my threshold for value. The Royals are almost no threat here, so it comes down to the Marlins vs. Zack Greinke. Greinke hasn't been great this season, but his first time through the order splits are very strong.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Minnesota Twins YRFI: We're getting solid plus-money here thanks to the eight-run total, but both starting pitchers have terrible splits their first time through the order. On top of that, Tampa is the best offense in baseball right now AND one of the more top-heavy.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Houston Astros YRFI: This is another game where the risk-seekers among us could easily take a team-only line, in this case the Astros. Houston is the most top-heavy team in baseball, and facing a starter in Kevin Gausman with poor first time through the order splits. On the other hand, Toronto is projecting moderately well to score here too — the Blue Jays just have a much tougher pitching matchup. Given the plus-money odds, I'm happy with taking the full-game YRFI.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Los Angeles Dodgers YRFI: This is a weird line from FanDuel, considering they're about 20 cents off most other sportsbooks. The Dodgers are right up there with the Astros in terms of production from the top three, and this game has a double-digit total.
San Diego Padres vs. Seattle Mariners NRFI: Games with 7.5-run totals are almost always going to show up as NRFI values, especially considering the splits of the pitchers — both of whom are excellent early in games. Neither offense is especially top heavy either, so we'd expect what scoring we do see in this one to come once the pitchers wear down a bit.