# MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Friday, August 25

Credit:

Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryce Miller

With no value on the Thursday slate we took yesterday off, but let's look to build on a strong Wednesday, where we had a 4-1 overall record inlcuding two team-specific YRFI 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. 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 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.

### NRFI Odds, Picks for Friday, August 25

Detroit Tigers vs. Houston Astros YRFI: The Tigers have been much better offensively in recent weeks, with their core of young hitters finally beginning to live up to their potential. That effect is more noticeable against left-handed pitching like they face today. Of course, the more likely team to score is the Astros, who have one of the best offenses in baseball at the top.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals NRFI: This game has a 9.5 run total, leading to a solidly plus money NRFI. It's worth taking the risk, thanks to two pitchers with solid first TTO splits, and neither team being especially top-heavy. Bet this at half of your usual stake.

Pick: Cardinals-Phillies NRFI

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Guardians NRFI: The total is a bit higher than I normally target for NRFIs, but both pitchers have above-average splits while both offenses are at or below average in production share from the top three.

Pick: Guardians-Blue Jays NRFI

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds NRFI: It was initially reported that Hunter Greene's start would be pushed back until Saturday, but now he's apparently the starter. I would wait until he's confirmed before placing this bet, though. His early-game dominance is the driving force behind it (2.61 ERA first time through the order).

Pick: Reds-Diamondbacks NRFI

Seattle Mariners vs. Kansas City Royals NRFI: This is my favorite play for BetMGM's Friday NRFI promo, where your stake is refunded (in bonus bets) if the NRFI loses with exactly one run scored. While I generally like to target plus-money options, this is the only NRFI I'm targeting today with the best odds at BetMGM.