MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Tuesday, September 12

MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Tuesday, September 12 article feature image

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Zach Wheeler

Monday didn't go our way, nailing two plus-money team specific YRFIs but giving back the winnings on some full game lines.

Lets do a better job with bet selection and sizing on Tuesday so we can turn a profit.

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 night's 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, September 12

Cincinnati Reds vs. Detroit Tigers (NRFI): Since losing Riley Greene, the Tigers have continually shifted to being a more balanced offense in terms of production, with their top three hitters producing fewer than one-third of their total output. With Reds starter Brandon Williamson having a 3.02 ERA his first time through the order, Detroit is relatively unlikely to ruin this one. Similarly, Detroit starter Joey Wentz does his best work early on. His best work isn't always good, but at least he's a lefty, which puts Elly de la Cruz on the wrong side of his platoon splits.

Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies (NRFI): My model has this one as roughly a fair value — assuming the Braves play all of their usual starters. They're coming off a doubleheader and have a commanding division lead, so it seems plausible that one or more of their top hitters gets the day off. This is basically a coin flip from an EV stand point otherwise, but a huge edge if somebody important sits out.

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox Game 2 (YRFI): Carlos Rodon has an ERA of 8.38 his first time through the order this season, while Boston's Kutter Crawford is at a respectable 3.19 but facing a more stacked top of the lineup. I like this one at -105, but I love it at +114 with the profit boost offered by DraftKings tonight.

Oakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros (YRFI): The Astros are the second-best team in baseball against lefties and taking on southpaw JP Sears, who has an ERA of just under 4.00 his first time through the order. They're the far likelier team to score here, but DraftKings has them priced appropriately at +145. I prefer the full game YRFI on FanDuel, since Verlander has actually been worse his first time through the order than his second or third time.

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