As the calendar turns to June, Thursday’s MLB slate offers just seven games to bet on run lines, over/unders and MLB player props. MLB bettors looking for some other bets to place should consider an increasingly popular MLB bet: No Run First Inning (NRFI) and Yes Run First Inning (YRFI). This article analyzes today’s NRFI and YRFI betting odds and recommends the best NRFI bets and the best YRFI bets to make on MLB games on 06/01/23.
June 1 NRFI/YRFI Best Bets
There may only be seven games today, but those games include a few of the league’s top pitchers taking the mound, such as the Mets’ Max Scherzer and the Red Sox’s Chris Sale.
Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks YRFI (-120 at BetMGM)
Starting pitchers: RHP Connor Seabold (1-2, 5.94 ERA) vs. RHP Zach Davies (0-1, 5.68 ERA)
On one side of this matchup we have an inexperienced, unproven pitcher in the Rockies’ Connor Seabold, and on the other side we have an experienced veteran in the D-Backs’ Zach Davies making just his fourth start of the season and second since returning from the IL. Neither pitcher inspires a tremendous amount of confidence right now, but Seabold in particular is the reason for the YRFI pick in this game.
Seabold has given up a first-inning run in three of his five starts this season. He also gave up first-inning runs in three of his five starts last season with the Red Sox. Today he faces a hot Diamondbacks lineup that has scored at least five runs in each of the previous three games of this series.
Davies struggled with his command in his first game back from the IL on May 27 against Boston. He threw 75 pitches in just 3-1/3 innings while allowing two earned runs. It’s hard to know what to expect from him today, but his 5.67 ERA in the first inning over 27 starts last year shows that he can be vulnerable to early runs.
Both the Diamondbacks and the Rockies are in the top 8 in MLB in first-inning batting average and top 9 in first-inning OPS. That has not translated to consistent first-inning run production, as the Diamondbacks sit 17th in that category while the Rockies are just 27th. That is bound to change eventually, and today seems like as good a day as any for that positive regression to kick in and the YRFI to hit.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Boston Red Sox NRFI (+100 at FanDuel)
Starting pitchers: RHP Hunter Greene (1-4, 4.18 ERA) vs. LHP Chris Sale (5-2, 4.72 ERA)
This matchup is easily the best pitching matchup of the day, or at least the one with the best name recognition: a relatively recent No. 2 overall pick in Hunter Greene and a veteran ace in Chris Sale.
Greene is coming off his best outing of the season on May 26 again the Cubs when he allowed zero runs and struck out 11 batters over six innings. He has allowed just one run in the first inning over his 11 starts this season for a sparkling 0.82 first-inning ERA. While that mark certainly is not sustainable, he also posted a solid 3.38 first-inning ERA over 24 starts last season.
Sale got off to a rocky start to the 2023 season with 15 runs allowed over 12 innings in his first three starts, but he has rebounded well and logged a 2.42 ERA over five starts (26 innings) in May. He has been susceptible to first-inning runs this season, having allowed six (five earned) over 10 starts. However, those runs came in just two starts – his first and third of the season – so he is 8-2 overall on the NRFI this season.
Together, Green and Sale are 18-3 on NRFIs in 2023. If one of those pitchers is going to give up an early run, my money is on Sale. The Reds’ offense has been hot – third-most runs in MLB over their last 12 games – and they are better against lefties than against righties. Still, getting +100 odds on an NRFI with these two pitchers on the mound is too good a value to ignore.
Cleveland Guardians vs. Minnesota Twins YRFI (-110 at BetMGM)
Starting pitchers: RHP Tanner Bibee (1-1, 2.88 ERA) vs. RHP Pablo Lopez (3-3, 4.11 ERA)
Rookie Tanner Bibee is off to a great start for the Guardians through his first six starts and has yet to allow a run in the first inning. He has allowed nary a baserunner with a 0.5 WHIP, albeit in a limited sample size.
Bibee matches up today with the Twins’ Pablo Lopez, who has allowed first-inning runs in six of his 11 starts this season and two of his last three. It’s a bad time for Lopez to face the Guardians, whose offense has been heating up over the last week. While Cleveland is tied for last in the league in offense this season, they have scored 31 runs in their last six games (9th best in MLB), and just exploded for 12 runs yesterday against Baltimore.
I like the chances of the Guardians carrying over those hot bats and getting off to a fast start today against the Twins. It’s also hard to expect that Bibee will be able to maintain his perfect first-inning ERA forever. With a decent chance of both teams scoring in the first frame today, I am betting on the YRFI at -110 odds.