MLB NRFI Picks Today, Model Predictions for Wednesday, September 6
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Atlanta Braves pitcher Spencer Strider (65).
We went 2-2 with our NRFI bets yesterday, for a slight loss on the day. Let's get headed back in the right direction today, with a few more ERFIE bets.
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.
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, Sept 6
Oakland A's vs. Toronto Blue Jays NRFI: We hit this bet yesterday and are headed right back to the well. Oakland is so bad offensively that the risk is mostly one-sided here, and A's starter JP Sears has a solid 3.88 ERA his first time through the order (compared to his 4.60 overall mark).
ArizonaDiamondbacks vs. ColoradoRockies YRFI: The Diamondbacks — with their 5.8-run implied total — are carrying most of the load here. However, Colorado has a solid chance to win this for us as well against Zach Davies. He has a 6.45 overall ERA and 5.53 his first time through the order.
San Diego Padres vs. Philadelphia Phillies NRFI: Neither team here is especially top heavy on offense — despite the big names at the tops of their orders — and both pitchers are strong starters. Zack Wheeler has an ERA and xFIP in the mid twos his first time through the order, while Michael Wacha's ERA is an excellent 1.62.
New YorkYankees vs. Detroit Tigers YRFI: This game has a solid total of nine runs, with most of that being driven by the Yankees against Matt Manning. It's too juicy everywhere else, but the -115 line at BetMGM is within my threshold for value.
Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals NRFI: We've seen some cracks in Spencer Strider lately, but they've primarily been later in games. He's still dominant early on. While the Cardinals' Hudson isn't quite to those levels, his 2.40 ERA his first time through the order is still strong enough to take this one at even money, despite the Braves' offensive firepower.
Orioles Team Specific YRFI: Baltimore does their best work against left-handed pitching, with a 110 wRC+ on the season. They draw southpaw Patrick Sandoval today, whose 4.70 xFIP the first time through the order is a bit worse than his 4.48 overall mark — meaning he can be got to early. As always, bet this one at half of your normal RFI unit.