Top MLB No Runs First Inning (NRFI) Bets & Matchups for Friday June 17 (2022)

Jun 17, 2022 - 3:56 PM

Ladies and gentlemen, the Weekend!

There’s no better way to get a head start on the weekend than by taking in a full slate of baseball. Not only do we have day games on, but there are 16 games today, including some very enticing matchups. What more could you ask for?

There are many ways to bet on a baseball game. One of the most exciting ways, now, is 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 lower than normal, it’s more likely than not that a run is not scored, leading to prices generally 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!

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Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers

Can we take a second to appreciate how terrific Tarik Skubal has been? It has been a difficult season for the Tigers, but Skubal has been the one shining ray of optimism. Per Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (fWAR), the young lefty has been the second-most valuable pitcher in all of baseball, ranking near the top of the league in skill interactive ERA (2.95 SIERA) and K-BB (23.2%). You couldn’t script a better start of the season for him.

The best part? This is the type of high-end production we should expect from Skubal moving forward. See, in his rookie season, he flashed brilliance (3.92 SIERA), but was too often bit by the home run bug. To combat this, he has dramatically decreased his fastball usage (42.8% to 27.7%), replacing it with more sliders and sinkers. As a result, he is suddenly inducing a lot more ground balls (48.9%), which appears to be the finishing piece to an exciting skill set. Whether it’s striking batters out, inducing ground balls or not walking batters, he can do it all, and that should continue against an offense in the bottom 10 in weighted-runs-created-plus (wRC+).

Meanwhile, Rangers starter Jon Gray (3.83 SIERA) has also been very productive this season and perhaps has more in the tank after possessing his highest velocity (96.3 MPH) in a start last weekend. The Tigers currently are scoring the fewest runs per game since 1947, per Jay Jaffe of Fangraphs, and also are the league’s worst offense in wRC+, isolated power (ISO) and walk rate.

Two productive pitchers, two bottom 10 offenses and a ballpark that suppresses home runs the most, per Baseball Savant; there isn’t one factor that isn’t pointing to the NRFI here. It’s very rare for the perfect pick to come around, and, in sports betting, there is no such thing as a lock. However, this would appear to be as close as it gets.

Bet: TEX at DET NRFI (-130 on FanDuel)

San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates

Even if it seems to be covered with too much emphasis at times, it is true that velocity trumps all else when it comes to pitcher analysis. However, velocity is a single variable and is better used when focusing on specific pitchers. After all, it truly is a driving force when analyzing a pitcher’s game-to-game fluctuations; a drop-off in velocity will usually lead to decreased effectiveness, and vice versa.

Why do I bring this up? It’s not always typical for one variable to perfectly describe a player’s highs and lows, but, really, average four-seam velocity tells us all we need to know about Carlos Rodon. The lefty’s newly-found velocity helped lead to a breakout season last season, which carried over to this season. However, between May 27 and June 7, his fastball velocity sat below 96 MPH, leading to him not being as trustworthy for San Francisco.

Nevertheless, Rodon (97.4 MPH) was back in business last Sunday against the Dodgers, and, voila, he struck out eight batters in six scoreless innings. For the season, the 29-year-old (30.6% K, 21.4% K-BB, 3.27 SIERA) has been fantastic and now gets to face an offense in the bottom three in wRC+. A smooth first inning appears to be in store here.

Unless the price is going to be extremely juiced to the under, there has to be some risk on the other side to compensate for Rodon getting to face a bottom three offense, which is true here. That being said, the 28-year-old Zach Thompson has made some tweaks to his arsenals, throwing more curveballs and, most importantly, fewer four-seam fastballs, and he has a 3.86 SIERA over his past four starts. Plus, PNC Park limits home runs at the third-best rate, per Baseball Savant, which offers more support for Thompson here. At the end of the day, with how much faith we have in Rodon against the Pirates, the paths to a run being scored here already go down. With San Francisco not possessing an elite offense (11th in wRC+) and Thompson showing signs of life, why not take that chance?

Bet: SF at PIT NRFI (-128 on FanDuel)

Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics

Considering these two teams possess the worst records in the American League, I think it is safe to say that this is not a preview of the ALDS. Thus, why not add some extra excitement to this game?

Between Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea, the A’s traded away a lot of players this offseason. For now, though, one marquee player remains — Frankie Montas. In 13 starts this season, the right-hander has been tremendous, posting a 3.17 SIERA and 20.6% K-BB, while also inducing more ground balls (48.1%) than he had the past two seasons. The Royals rank in the bottom 10 in wRC+and have the fourth-lowest ISO this season, and with how Montas has pitched this season, how could you not feel good about the matchup?

Most likely, it will be Zack Greinke coming back from the injured list to make this start, which is a risk, especially given his struggles (6.7% K-BB, 5.00 SIERA). Luckily for him, he faces an Oakland offense with the second-worst wRC+ and ISO and will be pitching in the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in all of baseball, according to Baseball Savant. Montas is one of the more reliable pitchers in baseball right now, while these are two bottom-five offenses playing in a gargantuan ballpark. Especially for East Coasters, you may not be tuned in for this entire game, but here’s hoping for a smooth first inning!

Bet: KC at OAK (-152 at Bet Rivers)

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