MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Thursday, July 6

MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Thursday, July 6 article feature image

Via Brian Rothmuller/Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias (7) throws a pitch during the MLB game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 2, 2023 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA.

After a couple of roughly breakeven days, we turned in a strong 3-1 day on Wednesday. Let's keep that momentum rolling on a smaller Thursday slate.

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 Thursday, July 6

Cincinnati Reds vs. Washington Nationals YRFI: We're going back to the well with this pick, which paid off for us yesterday. The top of the Reds order is incredibly strong, and they're on the right side of their platoon splits. The Nationals have a reasonable chance of scoring here as well, since they're implied for nearly five runs in the game.

Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers NRFI: We've bet — and won — the NRFI twice already in this series, so let's try for one more. This game has just an eight-run total, with two offenses that rank near the bottom in terms of production from the top of the order.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Los Angeles Dodgers YRFI: The Dodgers have the highest proportion of their production come from their first three hitters, so we frequently look their way for YRFIs. It helps that their starter Julio Urias has a 6.45 ERA his first time through the order, giving the Pirates a solid projection as well.

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