MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Thursday, September 7
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Eduardo Rodriguez
We had another slightly profitable day yesterday, going 3-3 but with one of the losses on a half unit bet.
Just a pair of picks today, which should hopefully put a few extra dollars in your pocket for the NFL opener tonight.
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 7
Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays (NRFI): Mariners starter Luis Castillo has a 2.11 ERA his first time through the order, and he's facing converted reliever Zack Littell, who's also considerably better early in games. In a game with an eight-run total, that's more than enough to justify paying the low juice.
Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees (Yankees-Only YRFI): I'm showing about an equal value on the full game YRFI and the Yankees team-specific line, assuming you can get the best price on both. I'm leaning towards the Yankees, though. They're taking on southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez and have extreme platoon splits — their wRC+ is 90 against righties but 116 against lefties.