MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Tuesday, May 30
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images. Pictured: Nestor Cortes Jr. (Yankees)
Let's keep the ball rolling after a perfect 4-0 sweep on Monday.
Today's slate is heavier on the YRFI side of things, with all but one of our picks being on a run to be scored in the first inning.
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 Tuesday, May 30
Detroit Tigers vs. Texas Rangers YRFI: Alex Faedo's breakout performance in his last outing makes this one a bit scary, but this game still has a nine-run total. With the Tigers' offense having a reasonable chance of being the one to score, that makes this still worth playing at close to even money.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Milwaukee Brewers YRFI: It's a somewhat steep price to pay, but this one checks all of the boxes; a 9.5-run total, two pitchers who struggle their first time through the order and a Toronto team that's both top-heavy and on the right side of its platoon splits. The Blue Jays provide most of the value here, so their team-specific line at +185 is a solid play, as well.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City Royals YRFI: This one might not happen due to weather, but if it does, the YRFI is a clear value. Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas is bad his first time through the order, and Zack Greinke is just bad at this point in his career.
Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago White Sox YRFI: This series was our lone YRFI bet yesterday, and it hit in a big way, with both teams scoring and five total runs. We're going back to the well tonight, with the Trout/Shohei Ohtani combination providing the value on the Angels side, and Chicago on the correct side of its platoon splits against a lefty starter.
Seattle Mariners vs. New York Yankees NRFI: Another repeat of a successful pick from yesterday, this game has a 7.5-run total and two starters who do their best work early in games.