MLB No Runs First Inning (NRFI) Picks & Predictions: Friday (3/31)

Mar 31, 2023 - 1:06 PM

NRFI is one of the most unique wagers to place on any sport, as it provides extremely quick action and resolution filled with all the sweat of any other bet. As the 2023 MLB season has just gotten underway, I will be relying on priors from previous seasons as a barometer for my handicaps until we have a sufficient amount of data from this season to rely on.

This Friday’s slate is much smaller than usual due to the potential for inclement weather impacting Opening Day, so I only identified one pick that I feel really good about, but I will try to bring 2-3 actionable plays to the table in my articles going forward. I will also give the best odds that I can find at the time, but as always, shop around at different books to find the best price.

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Friday’s Best No Runs First Inning (NRFI) Bet

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook

Houston Astros vs. Chicago White Sox Under 0.5 First Inning Runs (-115 Fanduel)

It took these two sides until the bottom of the seventh inning to put a run on the board on Thursday evening, and I believe that we will be in for another slow start tonight. The White Sox will be handing the ball to Lance Lynn, who has already thrown competitive innings this year for Team USA in the WBC. Lynn is coming off of a very solid 2022 campaign, where he ranked around league average in Hard Hit%, xSLG, and xBA and ranked well above league average in K%, Whiff%, xERA, and Barrel%. He also posted a career-low in walks, offering a free pass to less than 4% of the batters he faced (good for 98th percentile in the MLB).

These numbers combine to tell us that Lynn is a pitcher that pounded the strike zone last year and was successful in missing bats and avoiding hard-hit balls, all of which are important to keep runs off the board against the top of the Astros lineup. I also like that Jose Altuve is not batting leadoff for the Astros right now, and Lynn already has a couple of starts under his belt from the WBC.

On the other side, the Astros will be starting the 26-year-old phenom Cristian Javier, who was debatably the best pitcher in all of baseball over the second half of the 2022 season, including the playoffs. Javier’s stuff was absolutely elite last year, as he ranked above the 90th percentile in xBA, xSLG, K%, and xERA. His Whiff% and Hard Hit% both ranked in the 82nd percentile – not too shabby either. He was the catalyst for two combined no-hitters last year, going at least 6 innings in games against the Yankees and the Phillies (in the WS, no big deal) where the Astros did not surrender a hit. Though Javier doesn’t necessarily light up the radar gun, his curveball and fastball spin rates are well above the MLB average, which is why he throws a pitch that has been dubbed the “Invisiball”

The White Sox lineup is known for mashing lefties, and they still did not put up a run against Framber Valdez, which makes me like the righty Javier even more in this spot. I’d be surprised if Javier surrenders any runs on Friday night, let alone in the first inning.

(Side note – I grabbed Javier to win the 2023 AL Cy Young before the season started. Consensus odds are floating around +1800-2000 at the moment. I think that’s a great future to play before those odds plummet as people realize just how good this guy is.)

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The post MLB No Runs First Inning (NRFI) Picks & Predictions: Friday (3/31) appeared first on BettingPros.

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