After a busy weekend, just 18 teams are in action on Monday evening, but with the playoffs on the way, every single game could have enormous implications. Let’s go find some value in No Run First Inning (NRFI) and Yes Run First Inning (YRFI) props in the games on 8/14/2023 and make some predictions.
Houston Astros vs. Miami Marlins NRFI (-120)
Starting Pitchers: LHP Framber Valdez (9-7, 3.30 ERA) vs. RHP Braxton Garrett (6-3, 4.08 ERA)
The Miami Marlins should be riding high after claiming consecutive series wins. First, they took 2 of three in Cincinnati and then won Sunday’s rubber match against the Yankees in incredibly dramatic fashion, as they scored 5 runs to walk it off in the ninth inning. These wins are enormous as they attempt to cling onto the NL’s final Wild Card spot. Unfortunately for them, now they’re facing an actual contender-level team, the defending champion Houston Astros.
It also doesn’t help that Houston is throwing Framber Valdez, who is having a solid season overall, but has been especially sharp in the first inning where he owns an ERA of 1.64. Miami’s Braxton Garrett hasn’t been excellent overall, but his first inning numbers are certainly great, as he owns a 2.86 ERA across 22 opening frames. One issue here is that Houston has a top-three first inning offense, but Miami is in 29th place in the same category. Valdez should have no issue getting those first three outs, and Garrett stands a real chance as well.
New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves NRFI (+100)
Starting Pitchers: RHP Clarke Schmidt (8-6, 4.23 ERA) vs. LHP Max Fried (3-1, 2.50 ERA)
The New York Yankees’ season is quickly unraveling, as the only series wins they’ve picked up since June 25 are against the Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals, pretty soundly the two worst teams in the league. Sunday’s debacle against Miami may have been the dagger, as they blew a 5-run lead in a game where Gerrit Cole pitched.
Other than Cole, Clarke Schmidt has been one of very few relative bright spots for the team. His numbers don’t jump off of the page, but he’s provided consistently passable starts, and has been especially strong in the first inning with a 2.74 ERA. This may be a surprise given his overall numbers, but Schmidt, who notably struggles with getting deep into games, usually starts off strong before fading a bit.
He’s going up against Max Fried, who was an All Star a year ago but has missed a lot of time this year; this will be just his third start since returning from the IL, and his eighth overall this season. Still, he’s been sharp in the opportunities he’s had, and has yet to allow a first inning run, even in his most recent start, which was a rougher outing. Atlanta’s offense starts games strong, but New York’s doesn’t; with two capable arms on the mound, I believe in both of them to get through the first inning unscathed.
Seattle Mariners vs. Kansas City Royals YRFI (+100)
Starting Pitchers: XHP First Last (W-L, X.XX ERA) vs. XHP First Last (W-L, X.XX ERA)
For today’s obligatory YRFI pick, we have an excellent opportunity with even-money odds in a pitching matchup that might be rougher than it appears. Seattle’s Logan Gilbert has been pretty good this year, but has struggled immensely to settle into games quickly; his first inning ERA of 6.26 jumps right off the page as a pretty startling number. Conversely, Brady Singer has been nearly as bad in the first frame in terms of ERA, but that number is just about in line with his season total, which has been far from outstanding. As a former first rounder, things just don’t seem to be working out for Singer, whose statcast numbers are perhaps even more gloomy than his “traditional” metrics.
In addition to Seattle’s offense hovering around average in terms of both first inning and overall runs, Kansas City’s lineup sits in 22nd in first inning scoring, not a high spot but definitely better than the team’s positioning in most leaderboards. The Mariners have also gotten hot of late, as the postseason push intensifies; they won 8 games in a row before dropping their last two to the Orioles, and will be highly motivated to come out hot and regain their momentum heading into the home stretch of the season. I love their odds to score some runs early, and believe that the Royals could add to the tally as well.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. San Francisco Giants NRFI (-135)
Starting Pitchers: RHP Tyler Glasnow (5-3, 3.15 ERA) vs. RHP Ryan Walker (4-1, 2.40 ERA)
With two strong arms on the mound, this is a must-bet NRFI situation. Unfortunately, Vegas sees it that way too at -135 odds, so this may be one to tuck into a parlay, but I would definitely suggest incorporating it into your Monday ticket some way or another. Tampa’s Tyler Glasnow is one of the best strikeout artists in the game, with excellent pitch velocity and spin leading to elite chase and whiff rates. His biggest defect is lack of availability; he’s only thrown 12 games so far this year, which is pretty in line with his previous four seasons, but he’s good to go right now and is an imposing force on the mound.
He’s going up against another talented righty, who has a very different resume. Ryan Walker is a rookie, and a relief pitcher who has been used as an opener 8 times thus far. He’s been sharp in all usage cases, and despite throwing just two pitches, has been able to keep hitters off-balance and limit quality of contact at an unbelievable level. Although his task is a bit tougher than Glasnow’s, as Tampa’s first inning offense is tiers ahead of San Francisco’s, I believe in Walker to get through the first three outs before allowing a run.