The MLB slate on Wednesday 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 8/23/23.
8/23 NRFI/YRFI Best Bets
Here are the best NRFI bets to place on Wednesday, August 23, 2023.
Note: odds accurate time of publishing, but subject to change
Mets vs. Braves NRFI (+105 at DraftKings)
Starting pitchers: LHP José Quintana (1-4, 3.03 ERA) vs. RHP Charlie Morton (12-10, 3.54 ERA)
It’s always a bit of a risky proposition betting on a NRFI in a Braves game. They are not only by far the best offense in the first inning this season, but one of the best offenses in the opening frame of all time.
Going back to 2002 (the earliest year that data exists on FanGraphs), Atlanta has the highest average (.331), OPS (.995), wOBA (.418) and wRC+ (163) in the first inning, and in all cases it’s not particularly close. With 37 games to go, they are already 22nd all-time in runs scored in the first inning, and if they can come close to keeping up their current average of .98 runs/inning in the opening frame, they will easily break the record for 162 games.
So why is today a good day to bet on a NRFI in a Braves game? Besides getting good odds at +105, the matchup against Mets starter José Quintana is a favorable one for a NRFI.
Quintana has pitched well in his 6 starts since returning from a fractured rib that had him miss most of the season. He has allowed a run in the first inning just once in those 6 starts, and it was in his first start of the year. Less than two weeks ago on August 12, Quintana pitched 6 strong innings against the Braves, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits.
While it’s a small sample size this season, Quintana was also excellent in the opening frame last year. In 32 starts, he allowed just 5 earned runs, had a WHIP of 0.75 and held batters to a .170 average and .498 OPS.
Quintana has also had plenty of success in his career against the top of the Braves order. Ronald Acuna, Michael Harris, Austin Riley, and Matt Olson – the Braves’ projected 1-through-4 hitters – are a combined 4-for-38 (.105 average) lifetime against Quintana.
Of course, this Braves lineup could score on just about anyone, so it’s still a bit of a gamble, but the +105 odds make it worth the risk. After all, despite their gaudy numbers in the first inning, Atlanta has still played to a NRFI in 49% of their games this season, and plus odds on a 50/50 chance is a pretty good value.
Oh and by the way, we don’t have too much to worry about on the other side of this matchup. As historically awesome as the Braves have been, the Mets have been almost as historically bad in the first inning. They are in the bottom 20 all-time in average (.198, 4th lowest), OPS (.618, 15th) and wOBA (.278, 18th). They are scoring just .33 runs/game in the first inning, which ranks as the 6th worst (excluding the shortened 2020 season).
They face Charlie Morton, who has pitched a scoreless first inning in 17 of his 24 starts this season (excluding unearned runs). He has also pitched back-to-back scoreless outings (13 innings total), including one against these Mets on August 11.
Expect Morton to take care of business in the top of the 1st, and it will all come down to Quintana doing his part in the bottom of the inning.
Marlins vs. Padres NRFI (-125 at BetMGM)
Starting pitchers: RHP Sandy Alcantara (6-10, 4.11 ERA) vs. RHP Seth Lugo (4-6, 3.92 ERA)
Let’s get a bit more conservative with this next pick and take a NRFI in a game with 2 pitchers that have been excellent in the first inning this season.
Sandy Alcantara is starting to look like the pitcher who won the 2022 NL Cy Young award. Over his last 5 starts (38 innings) he has a 2.13 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP, and that includes starts against some powerful lineups like the Dodgers, Rangers, and Phillies.
Alcantara has been excellent in the first inning this season, having pitched a scoreless opening frame in 20 of his 25 starts. He will face a Padres lineup that has been good in the first inning this season, ranking 5th in runs scored, but has cooled off a bit in the month of August (.341 wOBA compared to .358 before that).
By contrast, the Marlins’ lineup has not been very good in the first inning this season. They are 28th in runs scored in the opening frame, and just 26th 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 21st in offense since those trades.
Like Alcantara, Padres starter Seth Lugo has also been excellent in the first inning this season. He has pitched a scoreless opening frame in 15 of his 19 starts this season, including 8 of his last 9. He has a 0.89 WHIP in the first inning and is holding hitters to a .194 batting average. He is also coming off perhaps his best start of the season, when he threw six scoreless innings and struck out 9 batters against Arizona.
Both pitchers should have the advantage early on this game, which will make a NRFI a winning bet.