MLB NRFI Picks | Wednesday’s Model Predictions

MLB NRFI Picks | Wednesday’s Model Predictions article feature image

Casey Sykes/Getty Images. Pictured: Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola.

  • Wednesday's MLB slate features a number of afternoon and evening games, giving us NRFI/YRFI betting value all day.
  • Billy Ward's NRFI model found value on seven games Wednesday, including picks for Phillies vs. Mets, Dodgers vs. Nationals and more.
  • Check out all seven of Ward's NRFI/YRFI picks for Wednesday's MLB games below.

We went 2-3 yesterday, bringing our record to 6-3 on the week. We have a full slate of games on Wednesday, with plenty of games in the afternoon — so get your picks in early.

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 31

Detroit Tigers vs. Texas Rangers YRFI: Texas has a 129 wRC+ against lefties this season, and it draws Tigers southpaw Joey Wentz this afternoon. This game has a nine-run total, making the -120 DraftKings line on the YRFI fairly solid odds.

Chicago White Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels YRFI: This is the third game of the series between the White Sox and Angels, and the YRFI is 2-0 so far. Not much has changed going into the third game of the series — it features a nine-run total, two pitchers who have pretty rough stats early in the game, and of course, guaranteed at-bats for Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.

Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays YRFI: Another game with a nine-run total, plus the Rays get to face a southpaw. They have a ridiculous 166 wRC+ as a team against lefties and are one of the more top-heavy lineups in baseball. Both games in Chicago are fairly likely to be delayed or postponed today, but we like the YRFI if they end up playing.

Oakland A's vs. Atlanta Braves YRFI: This one is close on an EV standpoint between the game line at -115 and the Braves to score specifically line at +175. Personally, I'll be splitting my exposure between the two; I want the upside of the juicier line, but the A's have enough scoring equity here that it wouldn't be a shock if they did the (only) scoring.

San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates NRFI: The Mitch Keller breakout is real, and he's been particularly dominant early on in games. Giants starter Alex Wood has solid stats the first time through the order as well.

Los Angeles Dodgers Team-Specific YRFI: The Dodgers are facing Patrick Corbin today, with an implied run total of almost six. They single-handedly provide enough value to make the game YRFI worth taking, but the value is way better on their team-specific line.

New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies NRFI: This game has a nine-run total, but both offenses rank near the bottom of the league in terms of scoring provided by the top three hitters. Additionally, both pitchers involved have excellent stats the first time through the order (although, the sample size on Carlos Carrasco is somewhat limited this season).

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