There is a full slate of 15 games on the MLB schedule on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. That provides plenty of opportunities to bet on moneylines, over/unders and MLB player props, but MLB bettors may be looking for some additional bets to place today.
An increasingly popular MLB bet to make is on a No Run First Inning (NRFI) or a 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 8/29/23.
8/29 NRFI/YRFI Best Bets
Here are the best NRFI and YRFI bets to place on Tuesday, August 29, 2023.
Rays vs. Marlins NRFI (-115 at BetMGM)
Starting pitchers: RHP Aaron Civale (6-3, 2.59 ERA) vs. RHP Sandy Alcantara (6-11, 4.16 ERA)
You will be hard pressed to find a better pitching matchup on the schedule today, and certainly none that offer the value of -115 odds on a NRFI like this one. Corbin Burnes and Justin Steele in the Brewers vs. Cubs game is also a great matchup, but the NRFI odds in that game are -155.
Let’s start with Sandy Alcantara, who recently has looked much more like the pitcher who won the 2022 NL Cy Young award than the pitcher who had a 5.08 ERA on June 21 of this season. Even after allowing 7 earned runs over his last 2 starts (12-2/3 innings), Alcantara still has a 2.62 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over his last 6 starts (44-2/3 innings).
Over the last 2 seasons, Alcantara has been excellent in the first inning, even as he struggled more generally for the first half of 2023. In his 58 starts over the last 2 years, he has a 2.48 ERA in the first inning. That number is skewed a bit by last year’s performance, when he logged a 1.69 first-inning ERA over 32 starts, but he still has a very solid 3.46 mark this season.
Alcantara has pitched a scoreless first inning in 20 of his 26 starts this season, though he has allowed a run in the opening frame in back-to-back outings. Considering his track record in the first inning, it would be very surprising to see that happen three games in a row, especially now that he has returned home where he is much better than he is on the road.
The Rays have been one of the better offenses in the first inning this season, having scored the fourth-most runs and posted the third-best wRC+ in the opening frame. However, most of that production came during their torrid start to the season, and since the All-Star break they have reverted to closer to league average. Two of the top three hitters in their lineup – Yandy Díaz and Randy Arozarena – are a combined 2-for-17 lifetime against Alcantara.
On the other side, the Marlins have been one of the worst offenses in the league in the first inning this season. They are 29th in runs scored and 26th in wRC+ in the opening frame. They are closer to league average since August 1 – 16th and 17th, respectively – which is partially attributable to the acquisitions of Jake Burger and Josh Bell at the trade deadline.
Still, the Rays have their own trade deadline acquisition on the mound, and Aaron Civale has been one of the best first-inning pitchers in the league this season (not to mention one of the best overall). He has pitched a scoreless first inning in 16 of his 17 starts including his last 12 in a row.
Civale has also had plenty of success against Marlins leadoff man Luis Arraez, whom he faced several times when he was on the Guardians and Arraez was on the Twins. In 20 career at-bats against Civale, Arraez has just 3 hits
If that isn’t enough reason to like this NRFI today, then consider that these teams are 2 of the top 3 teams in the league this season at hitting the NRFI (160 out of 263 games, 61%). Considering that track record and the pitching matchups, the -115 NRFI odds at BetMGM (which are much higher at DraftKings and elsewhere) represent a great value.
Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers YRFI (-105 at BetMGM)
Starting pitchers: RHP Merrill Kelly (10-5, 2.97 ERA) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (11-4, 2.52 ERA)
This game features the other pitching matchup that can make a case for being the best on today’s slate. Clayton Kershaw (1st) and Merrill Kelly (7th) are among the league leaders in ERA this season (min. 100 innings).
The catch with this game is that unlike the Rays and Marlins, the Dodgers have been one of the best offenses in the first inning (and one of the best overall) all season and they show no signs of slowing down. L.A. is 2nd in the league in runs scored in the first inning this season and 3rd since August 1.
The Dodgers are very familiar with Kelly, whom they have already faced three times this season, although two of those games came in the first week of the season. In the most recent game on August 9, Kelly pitched 6 scoreless innings.
Kelly has pitched a scoreless first inning in 18 of his 23 starts this season (19 if you exclude unearned runs), and he is coming off his best outing of the year. Against the Reds on August 24, he allowed just 1 hit and 0 runs over 7 innings while tying his career high with 12 strikeouts.
None of that portends Kelly giving up a run in the first inning today, but the Dodgers are just too dangerous to count out. The top of their order has had plenty of success against Kelly, as Mookie Betts (30 at-bats), Freddie Freeman (24), Max Muncy (32) and Will Smith (28) are a combined 37-for-114 (.325) against him in their careers.
Each of those sluggers has hit at least 1 home run off Kelly, who has been vulnerable to an early long ball this season. Of the 7 earned runs he has allowed in the first inning this season, 4 of them have come on solo shots.
The top of the Diamondbacks’ order has not had the same luck in their careers against Kershaw. Corbin Carroll (4 at-bats), Ketel Marte (40), Tommy Pham (17), and Christian Walker (33) are a combined 23-for-95 (.242) against him in their careers. The biggest threat is Walker, who is 10-for-33 against him with 5 career home runs. Marte (2) and Carroll (1) have also taken him deep in the past.
There is no doubt that these are two super pitchers fully capable of shutting down the opposing lineups in the first inning and beyond. But there is also a pretty good chance that one of these teams, especially the Dodgers, can get on the board in the opening frame.
After all, these two clubs are 2nd (Dodgers) and 7th (Diamondbacks) this season in YRFI hit percentage (146 out of 262, 55.7%). We’ll take the -105 odds on a better than 50% likelihood of a runner crossing the plate in the first inning of this game.