MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Wednesday, September 20
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Starting pitcher Chase Anderson #45 of the Colorado Rockies.
We went 1-2 on Tuesday, a disappointing follow up to the clean sweep on Monday. Let's get back in the win column on Wednesday with a few more picks.
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 nights 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, September 20
Cincinnati Reds Team-Specific YRFI: The Reds are taking on Bailey Ober, who has a 4.38 ERA his first time through the order. That equates to roughly half a run per inning, more than enough to justify this line at +210.
TexasRangers vs. Boston Red Sox YRFI: Two of the better YRFI lineups meet in this one, with non-threatening pitching matchups on both sides. Especially the Red Sox Bello, who has a higher ERA his first time through the order than overall.
Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Guardians NRFI: We have two below-average offenses in this one, both overall and in terms of the top three hitters. Zack Greinke on the mound makes this a bit scary, but he's actually been solid at the start of games with a 3.33 ERA his first time through the order.
San Diego Padres vs. ColoradoRockies NRFI: We know how bad the Rockies offense is, so this one likely comes down to the Padres. They're facing Chase Anderson of the Rockies, who does his best work early in games with a 4.02 ERA his first time through the order, compared to 6.43 overall. While those numbers are high, they're elevated due to his home ball park so we can mentally adjust down a bit in San Diego.