MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Friday, July 14
Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images. Pictured: Eduardo Rodriguez (Tigers)
We're back! With the All-Star break in the rear-view mirror, we can finally get back to the best bet in all of sports: the YRFI/NRFI bet.
We have a five-pack of picks today, plus an additional situation to monitor as lines have yet to be posted.
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 Friday, July 14
Baltimore Orioles vs. Miami Marlins YRFI: This game features reasonably strong starting pitchers, but also features two of the better offenses in baseball in terms of the production from the first three hitters. Miami stands out in particular, trailing only the Dodgers in the proportion of its runs created by the top of the lineup.
New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers YRFI: Speaking of the Dodgers, they're in action tonight (pending the weather, at least) against the Mets and Justin Verlander. Verlander has been mediocre this season — both in terms of overall numbers and early-game splits — and Dodgers starter Julio Urias has a 6.66 ERA his first time through the order.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers YRFI: The -115 line at Kambi sportsbooks (BetRivers, Gun Lake, etc) is considerably off the market and fairly generous for a game with a 10-run total. I'd still play the -130/-135 lines elsewhere, but we obviously prefer the better number.
Texas Rangers vs. Cleveland Guardians YRFI: While these aren't my favorite lineups to bet YRFIs on, both pitchers involved have worse numbers their first time through the order than overall. That makes this a solid bet with the 8.5-run total.
Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers NRFI: With the Tigers starting their ace Eduardo Rodriguez, this game has a total of just seven. That's a pretty obvious NRFI spot, even at a heavily juiced line.
Oakland A's vs. Minnesota Twins NRFI: Another game with a seven-run total, this one also features lower-ranking offenses (in terms of their production from the first three hitters). Lines aren't available for this one yet, but it's good to -160 when they are — and a parlay with the NRFI in the Mariners game could make sense, as well.