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MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Monday, May 8

MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Monday, May 8 article feature image

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Zac Gallen

Despite a slightly smaller Monday slate, my model is showing lots of actionable spots today.

Nearly every game on the board has a bet, so consider cutting your unit down today to account for the volume.

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 nights 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, May 8

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. ColoradoRockies YRFI: With the model now mostly relying on 2023 data, the loss of Oneil Cruz at the top of the Pirates lineup is accounted for — and the Pirates are still the sixth-most “top heavy” offense in baseball. They have most of the equity here against Kyle Freeland, who’s one of the worst pitchers his first time through the order (relative to his overall numbers).

Baltimore Orioles vs. Tampa Bay Rays YRFI: I have this one just over 50/50, so getting plus-money at BetMGM is a decent value. Most of the value is on Tampa Bay to score, but Baltimore contributes enough offensively to take the full game line instead of the Rays only.

Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox YRFI: While the Royals are a bad overall offense, what production they do get is overwhelmingly supplied by the top of the order. That makes them an oft-mispriced YRFI team. Throw in the considerably better White Sox lineup against the considerably worse Zack Greinke and we’re in a good spot.

Los Angeles Dodgers YRFI (vs. Milwaukee Brewers): The single-team YRFI plays haven’t worked out well so far, but this one is too good to pass up. I’ve got the fair line on the Dodgers first inning at +185, making this a massive value.

Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros YRFI: The first inning of this game should see at-bats from Mike Trout, Shoehei Ohtani, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez. With warm(ish) weather and winds blowing out to dead center if the roof is open.

ArizonaDiamondbacks vs. Miami Marlins NRFI: The team with the better top of the order (Miami) has a much tougher pitching matchup, and both teams are on the wrong side of their top three hitters’ (collective) platoon splits tonight.

Seattle Mariners vs. TexasRangers NRFI: This is a fantastic line for a game with a 7.5-run total. Both teams have somewhat scary leadoff hitters, and very little to offer after that.

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