The MLB slate on Wednesday, May 24 offers 15 games to bet on run lines, over/unders and MLB player props. This article analyzes the betting odds for an increasingly popular MLB bet: No Run First Inning (NRFI) and Yes Run First Inning (YRFI). Continue below for recommendations on the best NRFI bets and the best YRFI bets to make today, Wednesday 05/24/23.
5/24 NRFI Best Bets
The 5/24 slate is headlined by a premier matchup between two teams in the top five of the league standings: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves.
Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers NRFI (-104 at FanDuel)
This is going to be a matchup of strength against strength.
The Braves and Dodgers are first and second in the league, respectively, in runs scored in the first inning. They are also first and third, respectively, in first-inning OPS.
On the other hand, the Braves own the fourth-best team ERA in the first inning (2.49) while the Dodgers are middle of the pack at 4.96.
The pitching matchup in this game features two hurlers with some of the lowest ERAs in baseball this season. The Braves’ 24-year-old right-hander Bryce Elder is currently fourth in the majors with a 2.06 ERA. He has only allowed one first-inning run in nine starts.
The Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin has not pitched enough innings to qualify for ERA rankings (24 IP over five starts), but in those innings he has posted a blistering 1.13 ERA. He only allowed runs in one of his five starts, and none in the first inning. He also allowed only two first-inning runs in 24 starts last season on his way to a 2.14 ERA for the season.
Miami Marlins vs. Colorado Rockies NRFI (+108 at FanDuel)
The Marlins are the second-worst offense in baseball so far this season in terms of runs scored and they are 24th in OPS. They are also one of the slowest-starting offenses, with just 15 runs in the first inning (28th).
They could have a favorable pitching matchup against Rockies rookie Karl Kauffmann, who just made his MLB debut on May 19. The 77th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Kauffmann started strong in his first outing with three scoreless innings before the game got away from him in the fourth. He finished with five runs allowed (four earned) in 4.1 innings.
The Marlins slash much better against lefties (.290/.335/.452) this season than they do against righties (.241/.299/.366), and Kauffmann is a righty. I expect a similar storyline for Kauffmann in his second career outing where he starts strong and doesn’t run into trouble until the middle innings.
Kauffmann matches up with reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, who has struggled this season with a 5.05 ERA in nine starts. However, he has been lights out in the first inning. He has not allowed a run in the first frame and has a 0.33 WHIP (2nd) and a .100 batting average against (4th). Those numbers are similar to his 2022 campaign in the first inning: 1.69 ERA (8th), 0.88 WHIP (10th) and .167 BAA (4th).
With a rookie pitcher on one side and a struggling pitcher on the other, you can get the NRFI in this game at plus odds, and I like that bet. Alcantara and Kauffman will likely allow some runs later, but they will each keep runs off the board in the first inning.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds YRFI (-150 at FanDuel)
We have two picks for an NRFI, so let’s balance things out with a YRFI pick. For that, the best game on the slate is the Cardinals at the Reds.
These teams are both in the top six in first-inning batting average with the Reds hitting .305 (3rd) and the Cardinals hitting .286 (6th). They are also both in the top nine in OPS: .886 for the Cardinals (4th) and .804 for the Reds (9th).
That hitting has translated to the Cardinals being fourth in first-inning runs scored, while the Reds are average at 16th. But when you consider the pitching matchup, this bet gets very enticing.
Steven Matz has struggled mightily for the Cardinals this year, with an 0-5 record and a 5.05 ERA in nine starts. He has allowed eight earned runs in the first inning this season including three homers, and his first-inning BAA of .359 is higher than in any other inning.
On the other side, Ben Lively takes the mound for Cincinnati, and while he has pitched well in his limited appearances this season (2.45 ERA, 0.73 WHIP), he has pitched only 11 innings in three appearances (one start). Now he faces the hottest offense in baseball. In the month of May, St. Louis leads the MLB in runs and OPS, and they have mashed 12 homers in the last week.
At -150, I don’t love the odds on this bet, but that’s because it’s the best YRFI bet on today’s slate.