MLB NRFI Picks & Model Predictions | Wednesday, April 19

Credit:

Mark Blinch/Getty Images. Pictured: Blue Jays pitcher Jose Berrios.

• Another day of MLB action means another day of betting NRFIs and YRFIs.
• MLB betting analyst Billy Ward continued his model projections for Wednesday and found picks for Angels vs. Yankees, Blue Jays vs. Astros and more.
• Check out all four of Ward's top NRFI picks for Wednesday below.

We have afternoon baseball on Wednesday, with 10 MLB games starting between 1:05 and 4:05 p.m. ET.

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' performances 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 Picks for Wednesday, April 19

San Francisco Giants vs. Miami Marlins NRFI: This game has a total of just eight runs, one of the lower totals on the slate. While these teams have solid hitters at the tops of their lineups, both pitchers also have very strong splits the first time through the order.

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Colorado Rockies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates YRFI: Another high total game at Coors, but the YRFI line isn't quite as juicy as it has been previously in the series. The top four hitters in the Pirates lineup all hit lefties better than righties as well.

New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels YRFI: The projections here are a bit fragile thanks to limited recent data on both starters, but -125 is a great price given the lineups at play. This is a night game, so it might be worth waiting to make sure Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge are all in the lineup before placing the bet, though — even if it costs a few cents of vig. These teams play again tomorrow afternoon.

Houston Astros vs. Toronto Blue Jays YRFI: This DraftKings YRFI line of -120 is fairly generous considering the top of these teams' lineups. Like with the Yankees vs. Angels game, it could be worth keeping an eye on the lineups to make sure the stars are hitting today — though these teams both have tomorrow off, so there's less of a risk here.