Top MLB No Runs First Inning (NRFI) Picks & Odds for Wednesday, May 25th (2022)

May 25, 2022 - 4:48 PM

Tuesday was quite an exciting day for baseball! There was a lot of action keeping you glued to your TV, with the Orioles and Yankees going back and forth, Shane McClanahan and Kevin Gausman continuing to dominate, and the Phillies and Braves exchanging ninth-inning blown leads. Let’s hope today offers more of the same!


There are many ways to bet on a baseball game. Now, one of the most exciting ways is No Run First Inning Bets (NRFI). Really, it’s as simple as it sounds; you can bet on whether either team will score a run in the first inning. Especially 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!

Milwaukee Brewers at San Diego Padres

As you would expect from a matchup between two teams with a greater than 90% chance of making the postseason, per Fangraphs, this has been a very entertaining series thus far. Meanwhile, it’s also been very well-pitched, and that should continue today.

Although Padres starter Yu Darvish’s 19.6% strikeout rate isn’t particularly impressive, his 24.2% expected strikeout rate paints a better picture. His underlying peripheral statistics are roughly in line with where they have historically been. Meanwhile, based on Eno Sarris’ predictive stuff+ (111.7 to 123.9) model, his arsenal has been much sharper this season, which makes sense; he’s cut down on his cutter usage for more fastballs, one of his top pitches. The Brewers’ offense is still without shortstop Willy Adames, and Darvish is the precise type of pitcher to rely on.

He’s not the only pitcher with intrigue here, though. The Brewers will counter with young lefty Aaron Ashby, who is considered a consensus top-50 prospect in baseball, and he’s been effective (28.5% K, 3.34 skill interactive ERA/SIERA). Sure, much of that has come out of the bullpen, but he has worked multiple innings in 18 of his 22 career MLB appearances. With a career 63.8% ground-ball rate allowed, he’s naturally going to allow much fewer home runs than the average pitcher, and while he may not work deep into this game, you can count on him to be effective on a per-pitch basis.

Meanwhile, the Padres’ top-of-the-lineup takes a hit against lefties, with Jake Cronenworth and Eric Hosmer being left-handed hitters. At the same time, Jurickson Profar has historically performed slightly worse against lefties. The Padres, meanwhile, have been one of the least effective teams (-7.8 runs above average) versus sinkers this season and have struggled mightily against changeups as well. Those two pitches constitute a significant part of Ashby’s arsenal, and it’s hard to see him faltering here. Add in San Diego having the second-lowest park factor in baseball, per Baseball Savant, and there is so much to like with under 0.5 runs in the first inning here.

Bet: MIL at SD NRFI (-140)

Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners

Sticking on the West Coast here, there aren’t a lot of games expected to be low-scoring today, but this would be my pick to have the fewest runs scored, and for a good reason.

Fresh off a Cy Young award win and signing a $115 million contract with the Mariners, Robbie Ray got off to a slow start with his new team, but he has a 32.5% strikeout rate and 3.05 SIERA in his last five starts while he’s back to sitting at his usual velocity (94 MPH). He should continue to be on a roll against the second-worst offense in the league based on weighted-runs-created-plus (wRC+).

A’s starter Paul Blackburn entered this season at precisely the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of expectations, but he’s been just as effective, posting a 3.24 SIERA in eight starts this season. His specialty? Not allowing free passes (4.3% BB) and inducing many ground balls (52% GB), limiting the home runs he allows. That works perfectly in terms of limiting the volatility on an inning-to-inning basis. The Mariners’ offense has been below-average in terms of weighted on-base average (wOBA) since the start of May, and it’s easy to have in a pitcher who generally doesn’t walk batters or allow him home runs.

The icing on the cake? T-Mobile Park has the lowest park factor in the MLB, per Baseball Savant. Two pitchers on a roll right now, two struggling offense, a great pitcher’s park, what else could you want. Even at a steep price, the value is still worth it.

Bet: OAK at SEA NRFI (-138)

Miami Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays

It’s the battle of Florida! These may not be two big-market teams, but they’re fun to watch. Hopefully, that continues today, along with a well-pitched first inning.

With a 3.36 SIERA in eight starts this season, Rays starter Drew Rasmussen has been very productive. Like Blackburn, he doesn’t issue many walks (5.3%) and induces plenty of ground balls (51.4%), and while he won’t be asked to go further than five innings, that’s not a factor in this pick. After leadoff hitter Jazz Chisholm Jr., the Marlins feature five straight right-handed hitters, and Chisholm Jr. may not play in this game anyways due to a hamstring injury. In other words, Rasmussen is in a good spot here.

The Rays, meanwhile, are still without Brandon Lowe and also should continue to be without Yandy Diaz as well due to injury. Although he’s worked mainly as a reliever this season, Marlins starter Cody Poteet has induced whiffs (15.5% swinging-strike rate) at a high rate and a lot of ground balls (58.3%) as well. He’s doubled his changeup usage this season at the expense of fewer fastballs and ditching his curveball, which held up in his one start. Add in a change in location strategies (fastballs up and away to lefties) as well as using a sinker to induce ground balls, and he’s a completely reformed pitcher. Oh, and Tampa Bay also happens to be tied for the second-most friendly stadium for pitchers, per Baseball Savant park factors. Put it all together, and the under is a strong bet here.

Bet: MIA at TB NRFI (-140)


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