Top MLB No Runs First Inning (NRFI) Bets & Matchups for Friday, June 24th (2022)

Jun 24, 2022 - 7:56 PM

What a week of baseball it has already been! Between Braves/Giants, Guardians/Twins, and Cardinals/Brewers, there have already been many exciting matchups between postseason hopefuls, and we have yet to see other fascinating matchups, such as the Astros-Yankees rivalry that is in store for us this weekend. Buckle your seatbelts; you won’t want to miss this series!

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 lower than normal, it’s more likely 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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Pittsburgh Pirates at Tampa Bay Rays

It’s the battle of small-market teams! Both of these teams rank in the bottom-six in payroll and, regardless of their competitive stage, will generally stay around that range. Personally, that makes these two organizations very fascinating to monitor. How can they compensate for their lack of spending power?

From all accounts, this is most likely shaping up to be a low-scoring affair. Based on weighted-runs-created-plus (wRC+), these are two bottom-ten offenses. While those problems have only been exacerbated over the past 30 days, they each rank in the bottom-six in wRC+ during that span. Tampa’s offense is in a tough spot without Brandon Lowe, Wander Franco, Manuel Margot, and Kevin Kiermaier, while Pittsburgh could easily be without third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes after he injured his shoulder scoring the game-winning run on Thursday.

Plus, there is some intrigue to be had with this pitching matchup. Rays starter Jeffrey Springs has been excellent (20.2% K-BB) since moving into the rotation, and the underlying numbers back it up; his 101 stuff+ and 106 pitching+, per Eno Sarris’ predictive model, are both notably above-average marks. Any pitcher with the ability to induce whiffs and limit walks should have your attention, and against one of the least-productive lineups, he should continue to thrive.

The “risky” aspect of this NRFI likely comes from the bottom of the first inning, as Mitch Keller has had his fair share of struggles in the past. At the same time, since incorporating a sinker into his arsenal on May 25th, he has been able to induce a ground ball more than half of the time, while Tampa Bay’s top-of-the-lineup has been decimated from injuries. Then, factor in that Tropicana Field is tied for being the third-most pitcher-friendly ballpark, and all signs point to no runs being scored here. Hence, why taking the NRFI makes a lot of sense!

Bet: Pirates at Rays NRFI (-125 on FanDuel)

New York Mets at Miami Marlins

How about Sandy Alcantara this season? At the moment, it’s hard to give the NL Cy Young award title to anyone other than the 26-year-old, who has been the most valuable pitcher in the National League, per Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (2.8 fWAR). Meanwhile, there’s no reason to expect his fate to change soon.

We can quibble about Alcantara’s minor problems (23.6% K) striking batters out at an elite level. That being said, when you’re able to induce a ground ball on 55% of the batted balls against you and add onto it with just a 7.3% walk rate, the bar becomes much lower in terms of the number of strikeouts you need to be a dominant pitcher. The fact that he has allowed over two earned runs in just one of 14 starts this season is absolutely absurd, and even though some batted-ball luck boosts it, it’s not to the extent to be concerned about. Regardless of the offense he’s facing, how could you not trust Alcantara right now?

With the status of Jacob deGrom still in doubt and Tylor Megill still sidelined, the Mets require other pieces of their rotation to step up, and that’s exactly what Taijuan Walker has done as of late. The 29-year-old got off to a rough beginning of his season after coming off the injured list, but he has mustered a strong 3.82 skill interactive ERA (SIERA) in his past six starts, while we’ve seen some encouraging changes to his pitch mix; he’s throwing his splitter (31.5% whiff, .261 expected weighted-on-base allowed/xwOBA) twice as much, in turn throwing fewer sinkers (.352 xwOBA last year). Thus, he can induce a similar amount of ground balls (46.4%) but, now, can do so with high strikeout potential. Eno Sarris’ stuff+ (104.2) and pitching+ (103.2) models are all aboard the Walker train.

Plus, loanDepot park ranks in the top ten in terms of home run suppression, according to Baseball Savant. With the threat of home runs already being diminished by the ballpark and these two pitchers, and when you factor in the presence of a true ace with another pitcher making some interesting tweaks to his arsenal, it all leads to a clean, low-scoring game. What better way to start than in the first inning?

Bet: Mets at Marlins NRFI (-128 on FanDuel)

Cincinnati Reds at San Francisco Giants

At long last, we finally get to see Tommy Pham and Joc Pederson face off! What truly went down in this fantasy football debacle will always be a mystery (or perhaps not if it keeps brewing over). Still, if this doesn’t show the significance of fantasy sports in today’s society, I don’t know what does!

For the postseason-contending Giants, taking care of a supposed-weaker opponent is critical for them, and it all starts with a productive outing from starter Alex Cobb. In his first start back from the injured list, the 34-year-old’s velocity was about in line with where it had been for the season, and he remains the perfect case study of the flaws of ERA. Sure, his 5.62 ERA isn’t appealing, but unless you think a very high .381 batting average allowed on balls in play (BABIP) or very low 55.6% left-on-base-rate will sustain, why should that matter? At the end of the day, he strikes batters out without walking many back in return (20% K-BB) and has induced a ground ball on over 60% of the batted balls against him. As his 2.92 SIERA indicates, this is a pitcher performing at an elite level.

There are many reasons to trust Cobb against the offense with the fifth-lowest wRC+. Thus, we need to take a leap of faith with Reds starter Graham Ashcraft, who hasn’t missed many bats (13.5% K) in his first six career MLB starts. At the same time, his cutter and sinker lead him to induce a lot of ground balls (56.1%), while he has had no problems with neutralizing free baserunners (5% BB). In the ballpark that limits home runs at the fourth-highest rate, per Baseball Savant, that’s a leap of faith worth making. Perhaps there may be some sweats here, but after some sweet worm burners, we can all sit back and enjoy a smooth first inning.

Bet: Reds at Giants NRFI (-132 on FanDuel)

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