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MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Tuesday, May 9

MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Tuesday, May 9 article feature image

John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Corbin

We had a rough start to the week, with variance working against us in a lot of spots — like the first two runners reaching base but nobody scoring on a YRFI, or the only run in the first six innings coming in the first on a NRFI.

That’s the nature of the beast with a bet like this, and we’ve got plenty of chances to right the ship in a full Tuesday slate.

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, May 9

Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Guardians NRFI: This game has a 7.5 run total, with two lineups on the wrong side of their platoon splits. Neither pitcher has been great early in games — but neither has either lineup.

New YorkMets vs. Cincinnati Reds YRFI: Max Scherzer is finally showing signs of aging this season, with a 5.56 ERA on the year. Most of the value is on the Mets side though, who are implied for six runs and are one of the more top-heavy lineups in baseball.

Editor’s note: Max Scherzer was scratched from Tuesday’s start. David Peterson will start in his place.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Toronto Blue Jays NRFI: This is a “good pitching beats good hitting” pick, as, both lineups are strong at the top, but both starters do their best work early in games. The nine run total means we get a very good price on the NRFI side.

Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros YRFI: These teams both rank inside the top 10 of percentage of scoring produced by the top three hitters. While it’s two tough pitchers, both Shohei Ohtani and Framber Valdez fall more in the “need to settle in” than “dominant early on” camps.

Seattle Mariners vs. TexasRangers NRFI: We took the NRFI here Monday, which lost in the bottom of the first — and that was the only run allowed through the first six innings. Similar scenario today, in a game with a 7.5-run total.

San Francisco Giants vs. WashingtonNationals NRFI: Betting on Patrick Corbin to not allow a run — even for just an inning — is always scary. However, he’s been better than his ERA as of late, and the Giants struggle against lefties. Washington projects for very little threat on the other side, making this a value.

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