MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Thursday, September 14
Via Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Joc Pederson #23 of the San Francisco Giants in action against the Philadelphia Phillies during a game at Citizens Bank Park on August 23, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
We had a quiet Wednesday, with two half-unit bets that lost while our lone full-unit bet was rained out. Hopefully, we get to see both of our Thursday picks come to fruition.
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 Thursday, September 14
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Miami Marlins NRFI (-105 at BetMGM): Whether you look at xFIP, ERA, or some other metric, Eury Perez has been lights out at the start of games as his first-time-through-the-order ERA sits at just 2.37. While Milwaukee's Adrian Houser isn't nearly as dominant, we can live with one-way risk on a game with an eight-run total and a relatively low-juice NRFI.
San Francisco Giants Team-Specific YRFI (+180 at DraftKings): Fading the Coors game didn't work out well yesterday, so we'll take the opposite approach today. The +180 line on the Giants to score a first-inning run is pretty generous considering their six-run implied total. They're also taking on Chase Anderson, who has a 6.49 ERA overall — though he's been somewhat better early in games. This is another great opportunity to use the 50% MLB profit boost on DraftKings.