MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Thursday, April 27
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Zack Greinke
We have another split slate today, with a handful of games — and bets — both in the afternoon and evening.
We’re also taking a specific team only to score choice today, be sure to read the explanation below.
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 Thursday, April 27th
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Los Angeles Dodgers YRFI: A smaller total, but this one projects at about 50% to have a run in the first inning — making the +115 at BetMGM too good to pass up. If you don’t have access to BetMGM, I’d pass on the worse odds offered elsewhere.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Seattle Mariners NRFI: Two solid pitchers in a game with an eight-run total. Seattle has also hit much better against right-handed pitching this season, but is facing a lefty today.
Los Angeles Angels YRFI: This bet is on the Angels only at +175. Los Angeles is roughly twice as likely to score in the first inning as Oakland, but the odds reflect a smaller disparity. If for some reason the Angels-only bet is unavailable, I’d take the -110 game YRFI as well — but it’s much lower EV.
MinnesotaTwins vs. Kansas City Royals NRFI: The starting pitchers involved make this a bit scary, but it’s an eight-run total with weather that benefits pitchers — and the league’s worst offense in the Royals. Hedging this one with the Twins-only YRFI line (+185 at DraftKings) is also a viable option.
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