MLB NRFI/YRFI Best Bets Today: Expert Picks & Predictions for Sunday’s Slate (7/15/23)

With the All Star break behind us, baseball is back, and with it comes plenty of value in No Run First Inning (NRFI) and Yes Run First Inning (YRFI) props. Let’s take a look at some of the key matchups in the 15-game slate on 7/16/2023 and make some predictions.

New York Yankees vs. Colorado Rockies NRFI (+120)

Starting Pitchers: RHP Gerrit Cole (9-2, 2.85 ERA) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (0-4, 6.89 ERA)

Again, this one looks pretty different depending on the angle from which you observe it. From the home half of the inning, you can definitely understand the NRFI appeal. Gerrit Cole is having one of his best seasons in recent memory, and is coming off of his first-ever All Star Game start. He’s facing a Rockies offense that is 20th in the league overall, tied for 19th in the first inning, and somehow struggles even more in first innings at run-happy Coors Field. There are no locks in the world of NRFI, but if this bet makes it to the bottom half of the inning, you have to feel good about your odds.

But to get there, Chase Anderson is going to have to show up from the start. He’s having a dreadful year overall, but there’s a few wrinkles in his performance. Firstly, he limits walks and hard hits pretty well, so it’s a bit confusing that he’s allowing runs. Then there’s the fact that he somehow does better at home, which Rockies pitchers rarely do. And of course, his first inning numbers- in 10 starts, he’s allowed 2 runs for a pristine first-inning ERA of 1.80.

He gets to go up against a Yankees offense that nobody’s writing home about- they’re right below league-average in terms of first inning and total runs, and they’re only even that high because of a stronger start with Aaron Judge and some other bats in full swing. The first half of the inning might induce a little bit of anxiety, but I think this is a hidden NRFI gem.

Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels YRFI (-135)

Starting Pitchers: RHP Cristian Javier (7-1, 4.34 ERA) vs. LHP Tyler Anderson (4-2, 5.25 ERA)

There’s not always a YRFI in my top three picks for the day, but this one looks too good to pass up. Cristian Javier was having a really nice first half of the year until a few weeks before the All Star break, but his last 3 starts were increasingly disastrous with 4, 6, and 8 runs allowed in those outings. He’s had a week to sit around and think about that, so he might still be a bit out of his comfort zone on Sunday. The Angels are a top-10 overall offense, and are just a touch lower in first-inning ranks.

The Astros themselves are just a bit better than average overall offensively, but third place in first-inning scoring, so they’re fully able to jump on a starter. They have the pleasure of going up against Tyler Anderson, who has not had a strong year overall and frankly does not have exceptional stuff. He’s also a lefty, which is something the Astros as a team really do enjoy- they have a team OPS of .756 against southpaws. Pretty simply put, this is two solid offenses who both get to go against pitchers who are not exactly on fire right now- get ready for some early runs.

Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago Cubs NRFI (-110)

Starting Pitchers: RHP Kutter Crawford (3-4, 4.11 ERA) vs. LHP Justin Steele (9-2, 2.56 ERA)

Let’s start with an interesting one, where the proposition is pretty different in each half of the inning. In the top half, the one where the Red Sox are at the plate, the NRFI value centers around an excellent starting pitcher. That would be Justin Steele, to be specific, who is having a fantastic season. He continues to improve every season as a pro, leads the NL in homers allowed per 9 innings (0.4), and is 0.01 behind Clayton Kershaw for the ERA crown.

In the first inning , he’s been even better than his own high standard with an ERA of 2.25, and is facing a Sox offense that is dead average when it comes to first-inning output. On the other side of things, the Cubs have the second-worst first inning offense in the game, which brings us to the justification of the bet in the bottom of the inning.

Crawford hasn’t been anything special this year, but Crawford Statcastshow some positive trends, and suggest that the more conventional outputs could come along as well. Between Steele’s fantastic 2023 track record and the general ineptitude of the first-inning Cubs offense (0.39 runs per game), this is looking like a good situation for a NRFI wager.

Honorable Mentions

Now that we’ve taken a good look at my favorite picks, let’s highlight one honorable mention that could provide you with some good value

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds YRFI (-155)

We’ll wrap things up with one more bonus YRFI, a meeting between an excellent overall offense (Cincinnati, 5th in runs per game) and one that is below average overall, but top-10 in the first inning (Milwaukee, 0.58 runs per first inning). Interestingly enough, starters Adrian Houser and Ben Lively both have sub-4.00 ERAs overall, but have marks of 8.00 and 9.00 in the first inning, respectively, so they could get hit pretty hard early on.

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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