The MLB slate on Wednesday, August 2 features 15 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 08/02/2023.
NRFI/YRFI Best Bets 8/2/23
Here are the best NRFI and YRFI bets to place on Wednesday, August 2, 2023.
Rays vs. Yankees NRFI (-125 at DraftKings)
Starting pitchers: LHP Shane McClanahan (11-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (9-2, 2.64 ERA)
Getting -125 odds on a NRFI in a matchup with two of the best pitchers in baseball on the mound is too good to pass up.
Gerrit Cole and Shane McClanahan are 2nd and 6th, respectively, in ERA this season and they are 9th and 26th, respectively, in FIP. You don’t get to those kinds of numbers without being dominant in the first inning.
McClanahan has been especially excellent in the first frame. He has pitched a scoreless first in 17 of his 20 starts this season and holds a blistering 1.35 ERA in the first inning (4th in the majors).
Cole has pitched a scoreless first inning in 17 of his 22 starts including 9 of his last 10. He holds a 2.86 ERA in the opening frame (18th). He is coming off one of his best starts of the year, holding the Orioles to 0 runs and just 3 hits over 7 innings.
Neither of these lineups is especially formidable right now either. They have both been very quiet since July 1, ranking 23rd (Yankees) and 29th (Rays) in runs scored since that date. Their advanced metrics have not been much better, as they are 22nd (Rays) and 23rd (Yankees) in wRC+.
The Yankees did just get back Aaron Judge, who is just 4-for-18 against McClanahan but does have 2 home runs off of him, including one earlier this season on May 13. McClanahan allowed 4 earned runs in that game and lasted only 4 innings. He has also had a couple of shaky starts recently, having allowed 8 runs over 9 innings in his last two starts.
If there is any risk here, it’s likely with McClanahan, but neither that history nor the relatively high juice on this pick should scare you away from making this NRFI bet at -125 odds.
Reds vs. Cubs NRFI (+110 at DraftKings)
Starting pitchers: LHP Brandon Williamson (3-2, 4.48 ERA) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (8-7, 4.50 ERA)
It’s hard to turn down +110 odds on a NRFI in just about any game, even one between two teams that just scored a combined 29 runs yesterday. The pitching matchup doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but it still would not be surprising to see a scoreless opening frame in this game. It’s worth the risk to get the enticing odds.
Reds rookie Brandon Williamson has been starting to figure things out over his last five starts, as he posted a 2.45 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in July. He has been solid in the opening frame in his 13 starts this season, keeping opponents off the scoreboard in 9 of them, including 6 of his last 7. Two of the starts where he did allow a first-inning run were against the Dodgers, who happen to be the 2nd best first-inning offense in the league.
The Cubs have been one of the worst offenses in the first inning this season. They rank 23rd in runs and 28th in wRC+ in the first frame. Even as they have exploded since July 1 and led the league in runs scored, they have still been just 19th in runs and 23rd in wRC+ in the first inning.
The Reds’ lineup has been better in the opening frame. They are 10th in runs and 15th in wRC+ in the first inning this season, but they have fallen off a bit to 15th and 18th, respectively, since July 1. They do get a good matchup against the Cubs’ Drew Smyly, who has allowed first-inning runs in 6 of his 19 starts this season including his last two in a row.
Still, we’re not making this pick because either lineup has been particularly bad nor the pitchers particularly good. The simple fact is more often than not, teams are not going to score runs in the first inning, so without a very good reason to expect otherwise in this game, the +110 NRFI odds are a very good value.
Mets vs. Royals NRFI (-110 at DraftKings)
Starting pitchers: RHP Kodai Senga (7-5, 3.17 ERA) vs. LHP Cole Ragans (2-3, 5.22 ERA)
The two teams in this matchup have been especially weak in the first inning this season. The Mets in particular are dead last in first-inning runs (7 behind the next weakest) while the Royals are 23rd in that category. The Mets are also dead last in wRC+ in the opening frame while the Royals are 26th.
The Mets have been slightly better over the last month, ranking 23rd in runs and 20th in wRC+ over that span, but the Royals have been even worse, falling to 24th and 27th, respectively.
Mets starter Kodai Senga should have no problem dispatching the top of the Royals’ order. He is coming off his best month of the season in July, when he logged a 1.93 ERA and 0.86 WHIP.
Senga has had some trouble in the opening frame this season. He has allowed a run in the first inning 5 times in his 19 starts, including 2 of his last 5, but that doesn’t cause too much concern in today’s matchup.
Royals starter Cole Ragans is making just his 2nd start of the season after spending most of the year in the Rangers’ bullpen. He was the centerpiece of the June 30 trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to Texas. In his first start with Kansas City, the former 1st round pick held the Rays to 1 run on 4 hits in 5 innings. In 9 starts last season, he pitched a scoreless first inning 7 times.