MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Wednesday, August 16
Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images. Pictured: Jon Gray (Rangers)
We had another rough day on Tuesday with an NRFI spoiled by three consecutive two-out walks that pushed our record for the day to 1-2.
We'll have some lucky breaks swing our way soon – hopefully starting today.
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.
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 Wednesday, August 16
Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers NRFI: This is way too generous of a line considering all the factors. Twins starter Kenta Maeda has solid overall numbers and first time through the order splits, so we're really only worried about the Twins side — and they rank 29th in production from the first three hitters.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Cleveland Guardians YRFI: This is a pretty solid YRFI line considering the 9.5-run total on the game. Additionally, Reds starter Andrew Abbott has a 2.95 overall ERA, but a 4.98 xFIP his first time through the order.
Washington Nationals vs. Boston Red Sox YRFI: Outside of the normal factors, this one is propped up by the fact that the Nationals are considerably better against left-handed pitching (108 wRC+) than against righties (88 wRC+), which gives both teams a solid chance for a run here.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Philadelphia Phillies NRFI: These are two of my favorite NRFI teams. They both rank well below average in production from the top of their lineups, and both teams have their aces on the mound tonight.
Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels YRFI: This is another game where both teams are on the correct side of their platoon splits and two pitchers are on the hill who aren't especially strong early in games. Also, this is a fairly solid line considering the nine run total, even absent other factors.