MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Tuesday, May 16
Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Clayton Kershaw.
After a highly successful 4-0 day on all YRFIs, Tuesday’s slate is a more typical one with a balance of yes and no bets.
We have five picks in total, with a couple extra options if you want to hedge and/or take a longer shot for a higher payout.
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.
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, May 16
Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals NRFI: Miami has the highest percentage of its offense produced by its top three hitters this season, while Washington has the lowest. It adds up to a moderate value on the NRFI, but a hedge with Miami only at +220 on DraftKings makes a lot of sense as well.
Seattle Mariners vs. Boston Red Sox YRFI: A 10-run game total makes the -120 YRFI line a solid value almost regardless of any other data. It helps that both starting pitchers are slightly below average their first time through the order, though.
Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Guardians YRFI: Even money on the yes runs side in a game with two pitchers who are worse than average their first time around. Both offenses are in the top half of the league in percentage of production from the first three hitters, so the 8.5 implied runs should be somewhat front loaded.
Houston Astros vs. Chicago Cubs NRFI: This one has just a 7.5-run total, which, paired with strong starting pitching, more than makes up for the strong first three hitters on both teams.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Minnesota Twins YRFI: Both pitchers involved here struggle early in games, plus, the Dodgers are one of the more top-heavy offenses in baseball. Most of the value is on the L.A. side, so the Dodgers only at +200 is a solid value as well.
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