MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Tuesday, September 26
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryce Elder
We weren't able to find any playable NRFI lines on Monday's tiny MLB slate, but baseball is back with 16 games on Tuesday.
This is the last week of the regular season, so let's finish with a bang.
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, September 26
Cincinnati Reds vs. Cleveland Guardians (NRFI): We have two below-average offenses here in a game with a 7.5-run total. On top of that, Reds starter Hunter Greene has absurd splits with his first-time through-the-order ERA less than half his overall number. I wouldn't lay the heavily juiced lines elsewhere, but the BetMGM line is playable at -120.
Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves (NRFI): It's a bit scary taking NRFIs against the top of the Braves order, but Cubs starter Justin Steele has a 1.71 ERA his first time through the order. The Braves' Bryce Elder is also solid with a 2.66 ERA – and facing a far less intimidating opponent. DraftKings is offering a 20% boost on both sides of this game which makes their -105 the better line at boosted odds, though we're officially listing FanDuel's -102.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Chicago White Sox (YRFI): This game has a nine-run total, and two starters with ERAs north of four their first time through the order. Assuming the weather holds out, this is a solid spot, particularly for Arizona – which is still jockeying for playoff position.