MLB NRFI Model Predictions for Wednesday

MLB NRFI Model Predictions for Wednesday article feature image

Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images. Pictured: Charlie Morton #50 of the Atlanta Braves.

Things didn't go our way on Tuesday, with some tough breaks against us including a two-out run in a game where we had the NRFI. Let's turn things around today with a handful of bets, including some team-specific lines.

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 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 Odds, Picks for Wednesday, August 23

Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago Cubs NRFI: The suddenly productive Tigers offense makes this a bit scary, but Cubs starter Jameson Taillon does his best work early in games. On the Cubs side, they're taking on Tarik Skubal — who's allowed just two runs through 19 innings his first time through the order this season.

Baltimore Orioles vs. Toronto Blue Jays NRFI: Both Gausman and Flaherty have solid first time through the order splits, in a game with an eight-run total. Both offenses are also slightly worse against righties, which expands the edge slightly here.

Angels Team-Specific YRFI (Game 1): With Mike Trout back for the Angels, one of our favorite YRFI teams is back at full strength. While I'm showing a slight value on the game YRFI, Ohtani is on the mound for Los Angeles, which limits the Reds equity significantly. As with all of the team-specific bets, make this a half unit play.

Giants Team-Specific YRFI: The Giants are the underdogs here, but Phillies starter Michael Lorenzen has an xFIP more than a run higher than his ERA his first time through the order. Additionally San Francisco is a top-five team in production share from their first three hitters.

Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets NRFI: This game is projecting as roughly a coin flip, making the plus-money line a solid value. I'm also betting this one at half of my usual unit

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