MLB NRFI Picks Today, Betting Model Predictions for Thursday, June 29

MLB NRFI Picks Today, Betting Model Predictions for Thursday, June 29 article feature image

Via Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Trout #27 and Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels look on against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 29, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

  • After a strong Wednesday, Billy Ward's NRFI/YRFI model has found value on two picks for Thursday's MLB games.
  • Among those games is White Sox vs. Angels with Lance Lynn pitching against Patrick Sandoval.
  • Check out both NRFI/YRFI picks for Thursday's MLB games below.

We got back on track on Wednesday with a 3-1 day that would've been a clean sweep if I followed my own "no Yankees YRFI" rule. Still, it was a solid day to get us back in black for the week. Thursday features a smaller slate, so I have just a couple bets for today.

The Model

The process is relatively simple. First, I start by assuming that the full-game (implied) run totals for each 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, June 29

Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Guardians NRFI: This game has a fairly high total of nine, but it features two poor offenses. Both teams rank 22nd or worse in wRC+ against righties and are below average in the amount of their production generated at the top of their respective lineups. While neither pitcher involved has been great this year, each has posted solid splits for the first time through the order.

Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago White Sox YRFI: We're getting a pretty cheap line here considering the game has a total of 9.5, especially with guaranteed at-bats from Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Chicago's side projects reasonably well here too, as the White Sox have hit lefties much better than righties this season.

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