Tuesday’s MLB NRFI Picks & Model Predictions

Tuesday’s MLB NRFI Picks & Model Predictions article feature image

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Hunter Brown

We had a good start to the week on Monday, with a perfect 3-0 sweep including one bet at +110 odds.

Let's keep that momentum going on Tuesday with a few more picks.

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, September 19

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves (YRFI): The Phillies' Cristopher Sanchez has a higher ERA his first time through the order than overall, and he's taking on the best team in baseball against left-handed pitching. We're not expecting much from the Phillies against Spencer Strider on the other side, though he's struggled a bit in recent starts. This game also has a 20% boost on DraftKings, making the YRFI even more appealing at plus-money.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs (NRFI): Javier Assad is starting for the Cubs, and he's been lights out early in games with a 1.80 ERA his first time through the order. Pittsburgh's Bailey Falter has been less impressive, but he still does his best work early on, making this worth taking at even money.

Baltimore Orioles vs. Houston Astros (NRFI): With the solid Hunter Brown on the mound for Houston, the real question here is whether Kyle Gibson can get through three Astros hitters without allowing a run. My model makes it about a 50% chance (including Baltimore's odds of getting to Brown), but still worth betting at +110 odds.

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