MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Friday, September 15
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Steele (Cubs)
Another day where my favorite pick got rained out lead to an 0-1 Thursday. Just a few picks today, but hopefully they all see the field.
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, September 15
New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds NRFI (-130 at FanDuel): The Reds offense has struggled a bit against lefties this season, with rookie sensation Elly de la Cruz horrible against southpaws. More importantly, they're starting Hunter Greene, who has a 2.11 ERA his first time through the order. This is a great choice for the "NRFI Friday" promo on BetMGM, where your bet is refunded if exactly one run scores, since the Mets are highly unlikely to score here.
Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants YRFI (-129 at BetRivers): I generally stay away from Coors Field games due to the heavy juice, but this one is just -129 at BetRivers. That's a great line considering the double-digit run total.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Chicago Cubs NRFI (-125 at FanDuel): Everything is setting up nicely here. The Diamondbacks are on the wrong side of their platoon splits, with a wRC+ 10 points lower against lefties. That lefty (Justin Steele) has a 1.37 ERA his first time through the order. The Cubs have a slightly better chance of scoring early here, but Arizona starter Brandon Pfaadt also does his best work early in games.