MLB No Runs First Inning (NRFI) Picks & Predictions: Opening Day (3/30)

Mar 30, 2023 - 12:13 PM

We officially made it! Today is Opening Day of the 2023 MLB season. For almost every team in the league, this means the hope of the playoffs and a magical World Series run. For us, that means the return of one of my favorite bets to place, NRFI. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, NRFI or No Runs First Inning is as simple of a concept as it sounds. We are betting neither team will score a run in the first inning. Typically, these bets range between -130 and -190, largely dependent on the starting pitcher for a given day. These articles will come out almost every day from a collection of super-talented writers, and each of us will choose two of three games we like best on the slate.

Also, take a look at our other best bets for Thursday:

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Best MLB Opening Day No Runs First Inning Picks

All odds will be from DraftKings Sportsbook

Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros – 7:08 ET

On a day full of marque pitching matchups, this may be one of the best on paper. Framber Valdez will take the ball for the World Champs, and he is coming off back-to-back elite seasons. The left-hander relies on elite groundball rates, which makes it a bit difficult to project how the new shift rules will impact him. However, he allowed a 0.276 wOBA the first time through the order in 2022, and while the White Sox offense is solid on paper, they do not strike enough fear in me to push me off this bet.

For the White Sox, they are sending ace Dylan Cease to the mound. Cease had the best season of his career, posting elite K rates and limiting homers which put him in the running for the CY Young. He is the opposite style of pitcher to Valdez, with high FB rates and lots of swing-and-miss. Similar to Valdez, he posted a 0.275 wOBA the first time through the order in 2022. The Astros are still defending champs, but their offense doesn’t look quite the same as it did last year. With the injury to Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena likely takes over the leadoff spot, and while he had a special postseason run, that loss might hurt the offense a bit more than we think on paper. The Astros still have Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, and new addition Jose Abreu hitting 2-4 in the order, so the offense is still great, but I’ll take my chances that Cease can pull off a clean first frame.

Pick: -140

Cleveland Guardians at Seattle Mariners 10:10 PM ET

If the first pitching match does not excite you enough, maybe this one will. Luis Castillo takes the ball for the Mariners. After a down 2021 season, Castillo bounced back in a big way and actually posted one of the best seasons of his career. After a career in one of the most HR-prone parks in baseball, he was traded to Seattle, where he gets a massive park improvement. After the trade, his HR numbers were actually slightly worse, but that was more of a small sample problem than anything else. In 2022 his first time through the order wOBA allowed was 0.268. He gets to face a Guardians offense that’s mostly unchanged from last season at the top, except for the addition of Josh Bell. While the top of the order contains OBP threats, the power is lacking, and they may find it difficult to string enough hits together to score off Castillo.

Cleveland is sending their own ace to the mound in Shane Bieber. While Bieber has seen his velocity dip in the last two seasons, his dominance has not wavered. Last year saw a big drop in his K/9, but he limited walks even better than in the last few years allowing him to continue to post elite numbers. He had the best first time through the order wOBA of the group at 0.227. Despite their unquestioned superstar at the top of the order in Julio Rodriguez, I am lower than most on the Mariners’ offense. There are a number of question marks, and a talented pitcher like Shane Bieber will be able to exploit those weaknesses to his advantage.

Pick: -145


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