Top MLB No Runs First Inning (NRFI) Picks & Odds for Wednesday, May 18th (2022)

May 18, 2022 - 5:32 PM

With three doubleheaders on Tuesday, we had plenty of exciting action to be entertained by – 18 games is a lot! We’re back to our standard 15 games today, but with pitchers like Kevin Gausman, Gerrit Cole, Shohei Ohtani, Corbin Burnes, Walker Buehler, Logan Webb, Lucas Giolito, Zack Wheeler, Pablo Lopez, and Max Fried all set to pitch, it has the chance to be a very special day.

There are many ways to bet on a baseball game. One of the most exciting ways, now, are No Run First Inning Bets (NRFI). Really, it’s as simple as it sounds; you can bet on whether a run will be scored by either team in the first inning. Especially at a time when scoring is at an all-time low, it’s more likely than not that a run is not scored, leading to prices being juiced towards the “under” taking place. Even with that, the most logical bets are usually to side with the under, as you’ll see here!


Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics

For the Twins (21-16) to continue to be ahead of the White Sox in the AL Central, taking care of series against opponents they are widely expected to beat, such as the A’s, is paramount. Well, they’re in luck; they’ll send out Sonny Gray in the series-deciding game.

When looking at what Gray has accomplished this year in his debut with the Twins, it’s important to mainly focus on his last two starts. Why? Well, upon coming back from injury, his fastball velocity (92 MPH) is two ticks higher than it was previously, and right in line with where it was last year. He’s struck out 15 batters over those 8.1 innings pitched, and he’s in luck facing a top-three (Tony Kemp, Elvis Andrus, Jed Lowrie) consisting of three players projected to be below-average offensive producers (per weighted-runs-created-plus/wRC+) by THE BAT X.

On the other side, while A’s starter Daulton Jefferies doesn’t miss many bats, he also rarely walks hitters (3.3% BB), while he’s been a productive pitcher (4.13 skill interactive ERA/SIERA) this season. With both of these pitchers inducing more ground balls than the league average and benefitting from pitching from the most pitcher-friendly ballpark based on Baseball Savant park factors, there’s much risk of this being blown up by a home run, which is quite favorable. For the most part, it comes down to Jefferies holding down the fort against Minnesota, and in this ballpark, it’s worth betting on that happening.

Bet: MIN at OAK NRFI (-128)

San Diego Padres at Philadelphia Phillies

By the time October comes around, would you be surprised if this was a playoff matchup in the first round? The Phillies (17-19) will certainly need to pick up the pace, but these are two immensely talented teams, making this a very intriguing game to watch.

We touched on a lot of the very talented pitchers pitching today, but don’t forget about Padres starter Blake Snell, who will be making his season debut. It’s always risky trusting a pitcher in his first game back from injury, but we’re still talking about a pitcher with a 3.60 SIERA since the start of 2018. Over the final two months of the season, the lefty made notable changes to his arsenal, ditching his ineffective changeup while leaning on his elite slider more often. The results? A 2.77 SIERA and a 15.5% swinging-strike rate.

The Phillies are still without outfielder Bryce Harper after receiving a PRP injection in his elbow, while Kyle Schwarber won’t leadoff against a lefty. Thus, a usually potent Philadelphia lineup suddenly doesn’t look as scary, especially for a pitcher of Snell’s overall talent level.

It was initially a bumpy road for Phillies starter Zack Wheeler after being delayed due to a shoulder injury, but he sat over 96.5 MPH in his last start, and as his velocity has rebounded, he has posted a 29.2% strikeout rate in his last three starts. Obviously, that’s a very small sample size, but simply based on the velocity improvement, you’re banking on one of the better pitchers in baseball.

These are two pitchers to have faith in, but the price is still lower than you’d expect, likely due to Snell coming back from injury. While there is risk associated with that, it’s worth taking a chance based on the top of Philadelphia’s lineup against lefties currently with Harper out, and it’s easy to have faith in Wheeler, who looks primed to be back to full form with his velocity much closer to where it was last year. The bottom of the first could potentially be a sweat, but, hopefully, it will all be worth it in the end!

Bet: SD at PHI NRFI (-128)

Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers

Happy Shohei day everybody! We’ve come to just expect greatness from Shohei Ohtani naturally, but, as a pitcher, he has clearly taken his game to another level this season.

In six starts this season, Ohtani’s statistics are absolutely ludicrous. He’s missing bats at an exceptional level with a 16.7% swinging-strike rate, has the second-lowest SIERA (2.2) in the MLB, and also has seemingly just decided to stop walking batters (5.4% BB) this season. He’s currently sitting about 1.5 MPH higher than he was last year, is benefitting from making his curveball a sharper pitch with more velocity (57.1% whiff), and has significant confidence throwing the ball in the zone (56.3%). Per Eno Sarris of The Athletic, his stuff+ rating (129.9), command+ rating (100.6), and pitching+ rating (109.5) have all taken major steps forward, and we have to start considering him to be arguably a top-five pitcher on a per-pitch basis.

I’m not too concerned about Ohtani taking care of a Rangers lineup in the bottom-ten in wRC+ especially with Marcus Semien continuing to struggle and leadoff hitter Eli White projecting as a below league-average hitter by THE BAT X (93). Ironically, the main risk with the NRFI comes from Ohtani as a hitter, as he’s part of a lethal top of the Angels lineup that is very difficult to face; the combination of Taylor Ward, Mike Trout, Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, and Jared Walsh is right up there with the best top of the lineups in baseball, right behind the Dodgers and Blue Jays.

To this, I recommend having faith in Rangers starter Dane Dunning. Quietly, the 27-year-old has been quite impressive with a 3.52 SIERA through seven starts this season, which can mainly be tied to him throwing fewer sinkers this season and leaning more on his high-end slider and changeup usage. Add in the fact that he induces plenty of ground balls (51.4%) and is pitching in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, and there is a lot to be encouraged about. It’s a risk, but with how dominant Ohtani is, it’s worth investing in a pitcher that seems to certainly be coming into his own this season despite facing talented hitters like the Blue Jays, Angels, Astros, Braves, and Yankees already.

The top of the first may be tense, but should that hit, the NRFI is sitting pretty. After all, Dunning is certainly not your run-of-the-mill pitcher. Before it’s too late, it’s time to get aboard the Dane train!

Oh, and Ohtani is pretty good at baseball too!

Bet: LAA at TEX NRFI (-122)


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The post Top MLB No Runs First Inning (NRFI) Picks & Odds for Wednesday, May 18th (2022) appeared first on BettingPros.

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