MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Tuesday, August 1

MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Tuesday, August 1 article feature image

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Zac Gallen (Diamondbacks)

We've certainly had better days than we did on Monday. when we went 1-3 with two of those losses being especially frustrating.

The Astros had runners on second and third but failed to score for our YRFI. In Seattle, the only first-inning run came as a result of not one, but two throwing errors on a stolen base attempt.

These things happen though, especially with a high-variance bet like this.

With a full 15-game slate ahead of us, Tuesday gives us plenty of opportunity for that variance to break our way.

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 nights 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 Tuesday, August 1

Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies NRFI: This is an easy one, given the 7.5-run total and strong starting pitching from Sandy Alcantara and Ranger Suarez. The Phillies are also one of the least "top heavy" teams in baseball, further lowering the odds.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers YRFI: On the other side of the spectrum, we have a nine-run total in a game where both starters — but particularly Matt Manning of the Tigers — have below-average splits their first time through the order. Manning has an xFIP of 5.77 his first time through, which is well below his overall numbers.

Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Angels YRFI: Most of the value is on the Braves' side here, thanks to their 5.7-run implied total. They're taking on lefty Patrick Sandoval — who has a 4.64 xFIP his first time through the order — and the Braves have the best wRC+ against lefties in the league.

However, the team-specific YRFI has that mostly priced in, and I had a similar projection yesterday when the Angels came through for us. Los Angeles should project a little bit higher here as well, with C.J. Cron bolstering the top of its batting order.

Seattle Mariners vs. Boston Red Sox NRFI: Let's try this one again, hopefully with no fluky runs. Just like yesterday, we have a low total, two pitchers with excellent early-game splits and two teams in the bottom 10 in production from their first three hitters.

San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks NRFI: This pick is as much about BetMGM having an off-market line as it is about the game. It's at -135 or 42.55% implied, which is the only currently available line I'd take given that I'm projecting just under a 40% chance of a run.

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