MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Monday, August 14
Sam Hodde/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Max Scherzer
Last week was pretty rough, but I've made some tweaks to the model heading into the home stretch of the season.
Rather than look at hitters' full season data, I'm taking advantage of the large sample size inherent to MLB and pulling in stats only from the last two months. That should give us a sharper projection on where each team's offensive production comes from — since what they did in April isn't very relevant any more.
Just two picks today on a smaller Monday slate.
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 Monday, August 14
Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees NRFI: I’m a little scared of the Braves side here, but Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt profiled as a reliever coming into the big leagues and has excellent early game splits, as you might imagine, with a 3.19 ERA his first time through the order. The Yankees are less threatening, as they're implied for just 3.8 runs against Max Fried.
Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels YRFI: While Max Scherzer is still one of the better pitchers in baseball, he's no longer elite — overall or his first time through the order. On the other side of the diamond, Patrick Sandoval has a 4.69 xFIP his first time through the order, and the Rangers trail only the Braves in wRC+ against lefties.