MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Wednesday, May 10

MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Wednesday, May 10 article feature image

Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler.

There's nothing better than afternoon baseball, especially when you have a slew of first-inning bets to sweat. We have five picks on tap for today, with all of them wrapping up by around 4 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 Odds, Picks for Wednesday, May 10

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Colorado Rockies YRFI: This game has an 8.5-run total, with two well below-average starting pitchers. Most of the value is on the Pirates' side, but at close to even money, we don't need much from Colorado to make this a value.

Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers NRFI: The bottom half of the inning will be a bit of a sweat, as Seattle isn't projecting terribly here. Still, it features a mostly balanced lineup (13th in proportion of runs produced by the top three hitters against righties), and Texas is highly unlikely to get anything going off of Luis Castillo.

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Miami Marlins YRFI: This is an awfully generous YRFI line considering the nine-run total in the game. Miami is the third most "top-heavy" lineup against righties, with Arizona checking in at the middle of the pack.

San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals NRFI: Just like yesterday, we have a moderate projection on the Giants and a tiny one on Washington. This time, though, Patrick Corbin isn't around to ruin the NRFI. Josiah Gray is a considerably better arm for Washington.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Toronto Blue Jays NRFI: A case of good pitching against good hitting, both starters here have excellent numbers overall and their first time through the order. It's a little scary due to the quality of lineups involved, but I'm expecting the bulk of the scoring to happen once the pitchers wear down a bit later in the game.

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