MLB NRFI/YRFI Best Bets Today: Expert Picks & Predictions for Thursday’s Slate (7/27/23)

The MLB slate on Thursday, July 27 contains just 5 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 07/27/2023.

7/27 NRFI/YRFI Best Bets

Here are the best NRFI and YRFI bets to place on 07/27/2023.

Mets vs. Nationals NRFI (-105 at DraftKings)

Starting pitchers: RHP Josiah Gray (7-8, 3.45 ERA) vs. RHP Kodai Senga (7-5, 3.27 ERA)

In a matchup between two All-Star pitchers, we are getting solid -105 odds on a NRFI at DraftKings. That jumps out as the best value on the board with only 5 games (and 8 teams) on today’s slate.

The key to hitting this pick will be Kodai Senga against the top of the Nationals’ order. Senga has had a few issues the first time through lineups this season. He has pitched scoreless first innings in 13 of his 18 starts but just 2 of his last 4, and he owns a below-average xFIP of 5.21 in the first inning. His actual FIP in the first has been 3.67, indicating he’s had some good luck with some of his opening frames as well.

The Nationals’ lineup has been slightly above average in the first inning this season. They have posted a 115 wRC+ in the first inning (10th in the league), but that number has dropped to just 93 (17th) over the last two weeks. They are also weaker against right-handed pitchers, with an 88 wRC+ against righties this season and only a slight improvement to 94 over the last month.

Those numbers are more meaningful to me than some of the warning signs in Senga’s stats, so I am trusting the 30-year-old Japanese “rookie” to get the job done.

It’s very likely to be a scoreless game when Senga takes the ball, because the Mets are arguably the worst offense in baseball in the first inning. They are dead last in runs, average and OPS in the first inning, and only the Cubs have been worse in wRC+.

It’s hard to expect those numbers to improve against Nationals starter Josiah Gray, who has pitched scoreless first innings in 17 of his 20 starts this season, including his last six in a row. He is also coming off arguably his best outing of the season, when he pitched 7 innings of 1-run ball while allowing just 4 hits against the Giants. He was also very efficient, needing just 87 pitches to do it.

Take the attractive odds and pick the NRFI in this matchup tonight.

Guardians vs. White Sox NRFI (-120 at DraftKings)

Starting pitchers: RHP Tanner Bibee (6-2, 3.04 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Cease (4-3, 4.04 ERA)

Everything about this matchup screams NRFI.

Both of these teams are in the bottom 10 in wRC+ in the first inning. The White Sox are 27th at 81, while the Guardians are 20th at 96.

Both of these teams are also in the bottom 10 in wRC+ against righties. The White Sox are 29th at 83 while the Guardians are 20th at 95. Both starting pitchers in this matchup are righties.

White Sox starter Dylan Cease has thrown scoreless first innings in 18 of his 21 starts this season including 12 of his last 13. He owns the 20th best xFIP in the first inning of all MLB pitchers. In two starts against Cleveland back in May, he pitched 12-1/3 innings and allowed five earned runs on 10 hits.

Guardians starter Tanner Bibee has not had the same excellent numbers in the first frame, but owns better numbers overall this season. The 24-year-old rookie has pitched scoreless first innings in 10 of his 15 starts this season and has allowed runs in 2 of his last 3 outings. His 3.04 ERA ranks 16th among qualified starters while his 3.53 FIP ranks 18th.

Despite allowing a few first-inning runs, Bibee has been excellent over his last five starts. He has pitched 29-2/3 innings with a 1.21 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Expect more of this same against this White Sox lineup.

With these two pitchers against these two lineups, don’t hesitate to take the -120 odds on a NRFI in this game.

Cubs vs Cardinals NRFI (-105 at FanDuel)

Starting pitchers: LHP Justin Steele (10-3, 2.95 ERA) vs. RHP Miles Mikolas (6-5, 4.33 ERA)

One side of this matchup is Steele against steel. The other side is… not.

Cubs starter Justin Steele has been fantastic this season. His 2.95 ERA ranks 12th among qualified pitchers (minimum 50 innings) and his 2.97 FIP ranks 4th. He has thrown scoreless first innings in 14 of his 18 starts and his 2.85 xFIP in the opening frame ranks 15th (minimum 10 starts).

He faces a tough matchup against a Cardinals lineup that has scored the 10th most runs in the first inning this season and ranks 6th in wRC+ in the first inning. They are a threat to score in the first against just about any pitcher, even one that has been as dominant as Steele. At the same time, it would not be surprising to see Steele shut them down in the opening frame for the 4th time this season.

The bigger risk with this pick is on the other side, where Miles Mikolas takes the mound for St. Louis. Mikolas owns a whopping 7.36 ERA in the first inning of his 22 starts this season. In his last start, which also came against the Cubs, he got tagged for 5 earned runs on 11 hits in 5 innings of work.

None of those runs came in the first inning though, and he pitched a scoreless first against the Cubs back on May 8 as well. As noted above, the Cubs’ 71 wRC+ in the first inning this season is dead last, and over the last month that mark has plummeted to just 17. Even a struggling pitcher like Mikolas should be able to shut down this lineup in the first inning.

Given these matchups, you could make an argument either way on the NRFI/YRFI debate, I am taking the pick with the better odds. At one point the NRFI was at better than even money, and it’s still a good value at -105.

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.

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