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MLB NRFI Model Picks, Predictions for Today, Wednesday, May 3

MLB NRFI Model Picks, Predictions for Today, Wednesday, May 3 article feature image

Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured: Mariners pitcher Logan Gilbert.

  • Wednesday's MLB slate is once again huge, which means there's plenty of value in the NRFI/YRFI market.
  • Billy Ward's model came through with four picks for Wednesday, and he breaks each one down below.
  • Check out Ward's NRFI/YRFI picks for Wednesday's MLB slate below.

We turned a slight profit yesterday thanks to hitting the rare Coors Field NRFI — don’t expect to see many of those this season.

Let’s take another stab at our rained-out pick from yesterday, with three additional selections on the busy 16-game Wednesday slate.

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, May 3

New York Mets vs. Detroit Tigers (Game 1) NRFI: We tried this one yesterday, but the game got postponed. Similar logic applies here, though. The Mets should be more well-rested, and the game has a slightly higher total. That’s made up for by the better price today.

Atlanta Braves vs. Miami Marlins YRFI: Miami is a team that has struggled against righties this season, but its top-four hitters are averaging over .300. That’s precisely the kind of discrepancy my model is built to catch. It doesn’t hurt that the Braves are facing a lefty either, as they’re a top-five team against Southpaws this season.

Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals YRFI: The Royals are bad, but they have some pop at the top of their lineup. This game also features two pitchers who are bad both overall and (relatively) below average their first time through the order.

Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland A’s NRFI: This line is -145 on DraftKings, which is about what I’d make it. Oakland’s offense is terrible, and the Mariners are on the wrong side of their platoon splits against the lefty JP Sears. We could hedge this one with the Mariners only to score at +225 on DraftKings since they’re by far the bigger risk.

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