After an absolutely packed Saturday, the action isn’t slowing down anytime soon as Sunday also brings us 15 games with every single MLB team in action. Let’s go find some value in No Run First Inning (NRFI) and Yes Run First Inning (YRFI) props in the games on 8/27/2023 and make some predictions.
Los Angeles Angels vs. New York Mets YRFI (-125)
Starting Pitchers: RHP Griffin Canning (7-4, 4.61 ERA) vs. LHP David Peterson 3-7, 5.59 ERA)
Let’s get the slate off to a fun start with a YRFI in a game that should have plenty of scoring, early and often. These two offenses aren’t necessarily the best in the business, although the Angels are top-half in terms of first inning scoring, and the Mets are much more competent in opening frames at home. It’s also worth noting that first innings for the Angels include Shohei Ohtani, who is as good as almost anyone at creating a run out of nothing with one swing of the bat.
This bet really centers around the starting pitching matchup, which is between two guys who have both been very unimpressive, particularly in the first inning. Griffin Canning’s first-inning ERA is over 5.00, while David Peterson’s number is less ugly than his overall mark, but with a .940 OPS allowed, it’s still definitely not a strong suit of his. With a combo like this one, it’s hard to imagine six outs going down in this game before the first run is scored.
Texas Rangers vs. Minnesota Twins NRFI (-115)
Starting Pitchers: LHP Jordan Montgomery (8-10, 3.12 ERA) vs. RHP Bailey Ober (6-6, 3.41 ERA)
Like the last matchup, the value here is derived from the starting pitching matchup, although of course as a NRFI prop, this is the other side of the coin. Both arms are solid ones, Bailey Ober is having his first nice, relatively full campaign for the Twins, while Jordan Montgomery continues to impress, as he has since his trade from the Yankees a year ago. This year, he was traded a second time, back into the American League and onto the Rangers, where he has been super sharp through 4 starts with a sparkling ERA of 1.73.
The Twins have the better first-inning offense in this matchup, they’re ranked 8th in the league. However, they are one of the few teams that starts hotter on the road, and the Rangers are almost twice as productive at home. Texas is also generally trending in the wrong direction after a hot start; they’re just 17th in first inning scoring. Betting against solid offenses can be a tricky spot to be in, but the near-even odds provide a solid value for us to claim here.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Arizona Diamondbacks NRFI (+105)
Starting Pitchers: RHP Graham Ashcraft (7-8, 4.84 ERA) vs. RHP Slade Cecconi (0-0, 2.93 ERA)
As Graham Ashcraft’s second year in the major approaches a conclusion, his performance has not markedly improved as compared to his rookie season. One thing he has done well, however is get off to a good start; it’s pretty inexplicable compared to the peripheral numbers, but Ashcraft has a first inning ERA of 2.25 over 24 performances. The Reds will be going up against Slade Cecconi, whose career is off to an excellent start through three outings, as he’s earned a sub-3.00 ERA thus far.
These offenses are pretty normal; The Reds sit just above the league average in first inning scoring, as they occupy 13th place on the list. The D-Backs are in a bit of a higher spot, tied in 9th with the Cardinals. To make things even better for NRFI bettors, the Reds are a much better early offense team at home, while the Diamondbacks suffer a small drop in first inning production in their own ballpark. Trends wise, it’s a match made in heaven, and with two capable arms ready to go, this could be some outstanding value at +105.
NRFI/YRFI Best Bet Honorable Mentions
Now that we’ve taken a good look at my favorite picks, let’s highlight a few honorable mentions that could provide you with some good value
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies YRFI (-130)
If you look at Cardinals starter Drew Rom’s season ERA, you would probably be pretty startled; it’s just a tad below 15.00. That’s only because he’s exactly one game into his big league career, and that game was a bit of a disaster. No, this doesn’t mean he’s going to give up eight runs every time out, but it does mean that he definitely lacks a bit of experience, and could absolutely be dealing with some level or form of jitters that make it tough for him to settle in before he’s actually on the mound for the day.
Rom is facing Aaron Nola, who has been just about as mediocre in the first inning as he has been overall, which is to say a lot. He has an ERA kicking around the neighborhood of 4.50 in both the opening frame and overall, nothing terrible but definitely not what you want to oppose the Cardinals’ top-ten first inning offense. On a similar note, the Philly offense is only a few spots behind; this one has the potential for some early fireworks.
New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays YRFI (-115)
I know, my last wave of picks included a Yankees/Rays NRFI, and it worked; Clarke Schmidt held down the fort long enough to allow his runs in the second inning rather than the first. This time, Carlos Rodón is on the bump, which has categorically been a bad thing from a Yankees perspective so far. In theory, he has the stuff to deal with this team for at least an inning, but with the form he’s in, I would not bet on him to prevent Tampa’s fifth-ranked first inning offense to do something about it; in fact, I’d do the opposite, and bet the other way. The top of the Yankees lineup is also heating up a bit, with DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres kicking into gear of late.