MLB NRFI Picks & Model Predictions for Friday
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Shane McClanahan (Rays)
- Billy Ward is targeting six MLB games today for YRFI/NRFI picks.
- He starts with a 5:10 p.m. ET game between the Padres and Reds.
- Dive in below to get the model predictions and more for Friday's slate.
We had a light day on Thursday, but a good one (2-0). We're back with a full slate on Friday, targeting six total games, including some team-specific bets.
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.
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, June 30
Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres YRFI: It's a pretty heavily juiced line, but this one is projecting extremely well with an 11-run total. These teams also rank sixth and seventh in terms of the production from the top of their lineups — and it's at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
Baltimore Orioles vs. Minnesota Twins YRFI: We only have an 8.5-run total in this one, but both starters have reverse splits their first time through the order. That makes it likelier than not that these runs come early.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox YRFI: Toronto provides most of the value here, with Boston's starter James Paxton having reverse through the order splits. Boston is enough of a threat — and the line is cheap enough — that I prefer the game YRFI to the Blue Jays only line, though.
Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers YRFI: Both teams are +220, meaning a half unit bet on each team would return a profit of 0.6 units if either one hit, or 2.2 units if they both do. Given the juicy line on the game YRFI, I'll take the additional upside of splitting the bet both ways.
Los Angeles Angels vs. Arizona Diamondbacks YRFI: Both teams here are among the top offenses in the league, both overall and in terms of the production from their first three hitters. The BetMGM line is -125, but it's a strong sign when most other books are on the other side of -140.
Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays NRFI: Our lone NRFI of the day comes in a matchup with a 7.5-run total, and two of the better pitchers in terms of first time through the order splits.