MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Wednesday, August 2
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Twins pitcher Joe Ryan.
We got back in the win column on Tuesday, with a 3-2 day that could've been much bigger if not for some unfortunate breaks against us.
We have a full slate of bets on Wednesday, and hopefully we'll catch some of those breaks tonight.
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 2
Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Angels YRFI: We're 2-0 taking the YRFI in this series, with a similar projection today. Both teams are solid overall offenses and strong at the top of the order, making this a fairly easy pick with a double-digit game total.
Padres Team-Specific YRFI: The game YRFI is heavily juiced today, but the vast majority of the value is on the San Diego side. As usual with the team-specific bet, make this a half-unit bet.
It also makes sense to hedge with the full game NRFI at plus-money, as any scenario other than the Rockies scoring the only run would be profitable — the best line is +140 at FanDuel
Seattle Mariners vs. Boston Red Sox NRFI: This game has an eight-run total, with two lineups that rank toward the bottom in terms of how top-heavy they are. FanDuel offering a line 10 cents better than anywhere else is a big plus, too.
Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies NRFI: We don't see many 7.5-run totals these days, which is the first data point in favor of the NRFI today. Two starters with solid splits the first time through the order is the next. The Phillies ranking 30th in production share by their first three hitters is icing on the cake.
New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays NRFI: Gerrit Cole vs. Shane McClanahan is basically an auto-NRFI at these odds.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Minnesota Twins NRFI: Both teams rank near the bottom on the top-heavy scale, with the higher-ranked team — St. Louis — having the more difficult pitching matchup against Joe Ryan.