MLB NRFI/YRFI Best Bets Today: Expert Picks & Predictions for Friday’s Slate (8/18/23)

With the Tigers and Guardians playing a doubleheader, there are 16 MLB games on Friday’s slate. That means plenty of opportunities for MLB bettors to bet on run lines, over/unders and MLB player props.

It also means 16 opportunities for No Run First Inning (NRFI) and Yes Run First Inning (YRFI) bets. 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 8/18/2023.

8/18 NRFI/YRFI Best Bets

Here are the best NRFI and YRFI bets to place on Friday, August 18, 2023.

Note: odds accurate at time of publishing, but subject to change

Brewers vs Rangers NRFI (-115 at DraftKings)

Starting pitchers: RHP Brandon Woodruff (1-2, 1.99 ERA) vs. LHP Andrew Heaney (9-6, 4.17 ERA)

Let’s start with this interleague matchup of two first-place teams.

The Brewers are thrilled to have Brandon Woodruff back in the rotation. The top-of-the-rotation starter has been on the IL for most of the season with right shoulder inflammation, but he has looked good in his two starts since rejoining the team.

In his career, Woodruff has been dominant in the opening frame. He has a 2.92 ERA in the first inning in 108 career starts and holds batters to a .209 average. He also gets a high number of swings-and-misses with a 27.8% strikeout rate.

He was even better last season with a 2.33 ERA and 31.5% strikeout rate while holding batters to a .194 average. In just 4 starts this season he has yet to allow a run and has allowed just 1 hit (.077 average) while striking out 7. Four of those strikeouts have come in his 2 recent starts since returning from injury, when he has pitched 2 perfect first innings.

Woodruff faces a tough test against a Rangers lineup that is 2nd in the league in runs scored this season, but they have not done nearly as much damage in the opening frame. They are just 13th in first-inning offense this season and 20th since the All-Star break.

On the other side, Rangers starter Andrew Heaney may not have the dominant numbers that Woodruff has in the opening frame, but he has been pretty dominant in the second half of this season. Since the All-Star break, Heaney has a 2.54 ERA over 6 starts (28-1/3 innings), and that includes a very short outing in his last start when he was dealing with stamina issues because of an illness.

Heaney gave up a run in the first inning of that start, ending a career-high scoreless streak at 15-2/3 innings. Overall he has pitched a scoreless first inning in 16 of his 23 starts this season (18 of 23 if you exclude unearned runs), including 9 of his last 12 (again ignoring unearned runs). He also should benefit from some extra rest today after the short outing in his last start.

He faces a Brewers lineup that is not exactly potent offensively. Milwaukee is 22nd in offense this season and 15th in the first inning. Since the All-Star break they are just 26th in the opening frame. Heaney is likely to face both Christian Yelich and Carlos Santana at the top of the Brewers’ order, and they are a combined 1-for-12 (.083) against him in their careers.

Trust the pitchers in this matchup and take the NRFI at -115 odds.

Marlins vs. Dodgers NRFI (-110 at DraftKings)

Starting pitchers: RHP Sandy Alcantara (5-10, 4.09 ERA) vs. RHP Tony Gonsolin (8-4, 4.24 ERA)

Let’s take a swing (pun intended!) with our next NRFI pick of the day.

Betting on a NRFI in a Dodgers game may seem crazy right now, as they have been absolutely lights out since the calendar turned to August. They are 15-1 this month and are riding an 11-game winning streak. L.A. is 2nd in the league in runs this month (behind Atlanta) and they are +59 in run differential. They have been simply dominant.

For all that dominance, however, they have not been as dominant in the opening frame this month as they have been for most of the season. They are 2nd in the league in first-inning runs on the season (0.75/game) but just 15th this month (0.5/game).

Tonight they face 2022 NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, who has not been the same pitcher he was last season, but has started to regain that Cy Young form over his last few starts. He has a 1.69 ERA and 0.75 WHIP over his last four starts (32 innings), including two complete games. His last outing was perhaps his best of the season, a 1-run complete game with 10 strikeouts against the Yankees.

Even in a relatively down season, Alcantara has remained excellent in the first inning this year. He has pitched a scoreless opening frame in 20 of his 24 starts and has allowed just 8 runs all season (3.00 ERA).

Tony Gonsolin is another elite-caliber pitcher who is having a down season after a hot start, but like Alcantara he still has been excellent in the opening frame. He has pitched a scoreless first inning in 16 of his 19 starts this season and has allowed just 6 runs overall for a 2.84 ERA. He has a track record of first-inning dominance having allowed just two first-inning runs in 24 starts last season in an All-Star campaign.

Gonsolin also has the benefit of a much better matchup than Alcantara. The Marlins are 29th in the league in runs scored in the first inning this season, and just 25th in runs scored overall. While they have been slightly better since adding some pop to the lineup with the trade deadline acquisitions of Jake Burger and Josh Bell, they are still just 20th in offense since those trades.

Don’t let the Dodgers’ recent surge scare you away. There may be some runs scored in this game, but they won’t come in the first inning, and the NRFI will cash at -110 odds.

Noah hails from Philadelphia and is a diehard Philly sports fan. He graduated from Penn where he was a sports writer and editor for the student newspaper and also spent a summer covering the Baltimore Orioles for He has been playing fantasy sports since before live stats were a thing, and he has enjoyed learning the nuances of DFS in recent years. As a current resident of Florida, he is hoping the wave of sports betting legalization will eventually reach his home state.