MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Monday, August 28

MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Monday, August 28 article feature image

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We snapped our extended cold streak last week, and let's keep the momentum rolling this week.

A five pack of bets today, though a couple are only worth taking on specific books so your mileage may vary.

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 night's 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 Monday, August 28

Baltimore Orioles vs. Chicago White Sox YRFI: Baltimore makes up most of the value here against White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech, who has a 5.10 ERA and 6.10 xERA the first time through the order. Chicago has just enough value coming back to make the full-game YRFI preferable to Baltimore only, though.

New York Mets vs. Texas Rangers YRFI: BetRivers and other books powered by Kambi lines are the only place where I'd take this bet, as they're at least 10 cents better than the rest of the market on the YRFI. It projects well, but not well enough to pay the heavier juice elsewhere.

Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers NRFI: The Cubs are one of just a few teams to hit lefties worse than righties overall, with the Brewers hitting righties worse. That puts both lineups on the lesser performing side of their platoon splits against two pitchers with solid first inning splits themselves.

Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics NRFI: Another line where BetRivers is giving us the best price, though this one projects well enough that I'd take it anywhere it's available.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks YRFI: This game has a moderate 8.5-run total, but both offenses involved are very strong at the top. Strong enough to overcome relatively solid pitching, at least when the line is only -111.

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