MLB NRFI/YRFI Best Bets Today: Expert Picks & Predictions for Thursday’s Slate (8/31/23)

Thursday’s slate of MLB games is one of the smallest you’ll find. With only four games on the docket, finding real NRFI and YRFI value is a challenge. Let’s take a look at which bets from Thursday’s games give us the best value.

MLB Best NRFI and YRFI Bets for August 31

Here’s a look at the best NRFI and YRFI bets from Thursday’s slate of games.

Braves vs. Dodgers YRFI (-106)

This is too obvious, right? With so few options on the table, a first inning run from two of the most dominant offenses in baseball might be a layup – at this line (-106), it’s even sweeter.

Both of these pitchers – Lance Lynn and Spencer Strider – have been tough to crack lately. While Lynn has been much better with the Dodgers, he did allow 10 hits in his last outing. A start against a Braves team that has been historically good in the first inning and simply can’t stop hitting home runs might set him up for regression.

The Dodgers are second to only Atlanta in first inning runs per game. Spencer Strider’s excellence of late (1 ER over his last 21 IP) may put some value on this line, but his only real weakness is getting hit hard, and the combination of Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman is hitting pitchers hard. It would be a surprise if these two great offenses couldn’t scratch a run across early on Thursday.

Yankees vs. Tigers NRFI (+102)

There’s some reason for concern between both Clarke Schmidt and Matt Manning, considering both have given up their share of home runs and both are facing lineups with some power near the top. Still, in a day game following a night game, the safer bet is on a scoreless first as the offenses settle in.

Schmidt has allowed more than 3 ER in only one of his last 18 starts as he’s developed into one of the Yankees’ most consistent arms. 7 of the 19 home runs Schmidt has allowed this season came in April, so he’s a step better right now than the season numbers indicate. Schmidt has given up more hits to lefties this season, but a negligible home run difference means it shouldn’t be a huge red flag against this power-dependent Tigers team.

Home runs have hurt Manning as well, but he limits hits so well (1.06 WHIP) that the Yankees scoring any other way in the first inning seems unlikely. On a light day around baseball, the odds of a NRFI seem a step better than the line indicates.

Marlins vs. Nationals NRFI (-108)

The Marlins are averaging only 0.39 first inning runs per game, 29th in baseball, and much of that has to do with Luis Arraez’s struggles to sustain his early-season success. It’s gotten to the point that Jorge Soler is virtually Miami’s only hope for an early run, and he’ll be facing a pitcher who appears to be making some strides.

After a brutal 2022, Joan Adon has returned to the majors and looked decent of late for the Nationals. His high ERA is a concern, but he’s coming off six scoreless innings and has a terrific 0.96 WHIP to this point. On the other side, Braxton Garrett has a sub-3 first inning ERA, with only 8 ER allowed across 25 first inning appearances.

The Nationals have been surprisingly strong early in games this season, sitting sixth in first inning runs per game, but they’ve been held scoreless in five of seven (71%) first innings since losing Stone Garrett. NRFI is the safer play and better value in this series opener.

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Dan is a lifelong sports fan and graduate of Boston University. He’s covered several sports on Instagram since he was 12 and now writes about everything from betting trends to breaking news for Lineups.

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