We lost some close calls yesterday, including an NRFI on a passed ball and the Dodgers wasting a lead-off double on a team-specific YRFI.
Still, a 2-3 day for only a slight loss with variance working against us is encouraging — especially after sweeping all four picks on Monday. Let’s get back to the winning ways today.
The process is relatively simple. First, I start by assuming that the full game (implied) run totals for either team are roughly efficient. As mentioned above, that tends to be the case more often than not. This saves me the trouble of trying to predict the total runs scored in the game — and allows me to focus strictly on the “when” rather than “how many.”
Next, I built a database of pitchers’ performances the first time through the order, relative to their overall stats. Since the latter is presumably baked into the full game total, I wanted to figure out if those runs are more likely to come early or late. Most — but not all — MLB starters do somewhat better early in games, but with some variance in just how much. The model uses xFIP (expected Fielding Independent Pitching) as the ERA predictor of choice.
That’s only half of the equation, though, with the offenses making up the other half. To do this, I looked at what percentage of a team’s total runs is produced by the top three batters in the lineup. While a first-inning run scored, by definition, needs at least four hitters to come to the plate, one of the first three has to actually score it. The metric of choice here is wRC+, based on the projected lineup for the day from each team.
This is a bit of a tradeoff, as lineups (and run totals) can shift throughout the day, especially if significant contributors miss time. However, in my experience, the inefficiency of the morning lines more than makes up for the leakage in the model. With that said, exercise caution if, say, Mike Trout is listed as questionable for the night’s game.
With all of the picks below, I’ll include the pick, the best line and the threshold I’d bet it to. These will go up in the morning, so if any major news breaks between publishing and when you read it, be sure to consider that.
Infrequently, rather than betting on the traditional YRFI/NRFI, the pick will be on one team or the other specifically to score a run, which as of this writing is only a betting option at DraftKings. Since the model handles each team individually, sometimes one team is projecting for a greater proportion of the “run equity” in the first inning than the betting lines are accounting for.
NRFI Odds, Picks for Wednesday, May 17
Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Francisco Giants YRFI: This game has a 9.5-run total, making the -120 line more than generous. My model has a run around 60% even with most of the Phillies data being pulled from games without Bryce Harper, so if anything, the odds are a bit higher than the model suggests.
Miami Marlins YRFI: I have this game at around 50% for a run in general, making the plus-money game lines a value as well. However, Miami accounts for about 35% of that, so the +260 line is a huge value. I’m considering betting a half-unit each on the game in general at +110 and Miami specifically as a hedge.
Texas Rangers vs. Atlanta Braves NRFI: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Spencer Strider is an NRFI match made in heaven, even at significant juice. FanDuel being a good bit off the rest of the market is a big boost as well.
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