MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Monday, June 12
Jasen Vinlove/Miami Marlins/Getty Images. Pictured: Marlins pitcher Jesus Luzardo.
- Monday's MLB slate is a smaller one, but there's still plenty of NRFI/YRFI value on the board.
- Billy Ward's model has picks for four games, including Marlins vs. Mariners, Rockies vs. Red Sox and Giants vs. Cardinals.
- Check out all four MLB NRFI picks and projections for Monday's slate below.
I found a surprising amount of first-inning picks that showed value today despite the smaller slate.
One of the benefits of getting deeper into the season is that more and more starters have large enough sample sizes to be comfortable projecting — which means more chances for action.
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, June 12
Boston Red Sox vs. Colorado Rockies YRFI: The double-digit total in this one made me think it was at Coors, but the Red Sox are actually at home for this one. Besides the huge total, both pitchers have struggled early in games this season, making this one well worth the juice.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants YRFI: There's not as huge of a projection in this one as the game in Boston, but there's enough to make sense at plus-money or with slight juice. Giants starter Logan Webb has been awesome this season but worse the first time through the order than overall, and Cardinals starter Matthew Liberatore has just been bad with a 6.00 ERA.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies YRFI: This is another game with a huge total, which will obviously have us leaning toward the YRFI. Arizona is one of the more top-heavy offenses as well, with Philadelphia rising in that department every time I update the database since Bryce Harper came back from the IL.
Seattle Mariners vs. Miami Marlins NRFI: I'd pay a much steeper price for this one than we actually have to, with two tough starters and a 7.5-run total. Besides being strong pitchers overall, both have excellent splits the first time through the order.