NRFI Bets to Target on 2024 Opening Day

Kenyatta Storin
Kenyatta Storin@KenyattaStorin
NRFI Bets to Target on 2024 Opening Day

The MLB season is an annual marathon that gives us months of daily betting markets to consider.

While traditional player props like home runs and strikeouts remain popular options, one market that's gained steam is betting whether or not no runs will be scored in the first inning -- aka a No Run First Inning (NRFI) bet.

On FanDuel Sportsbook's MLB odds, we can find NRFI odds listed as 1st Inning Over/Under 0.5 Runs odds under each MLB game.

Where can we find value in this unique prop market on Opening Day?

Please note: lines and projections are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published.

Best NRFI Prop Bets

Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds

Over 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (+100)

As of this writing, this Washington Nationals-Cincinnati Reds matchup is showing a slate-high 9.0-run total on Opening Day, while every other game falls between 7.5 and 8.5.

Yet we're still seeing plus odds for a Yes Run First Inning (YRFI) that are identical or similar to what we're seeing in games with totals 1.0-1.5 runs below this one.

This looks like an ideal value spot to jump on today.

We don't need to look far to find reasons for a YRFI. Straight away, we get a boost from the Reds' Great American Ball Park, easily the day's most hitter-friendly venue, per the park factors on Baseball Savant.

Then we have the starting pitchers, Josiah Gray and Frankie Montas, who are both prime candidates to let up some early runs.

Gray had shaky underlying numbers in 2023, and his performance in the first inning was no exception. Among Opening Day starters, the right-hander posted the second-worst xFIP (5.34), third-worst walk rate (13.5%), and second-highest fly-ball rate (52.0%) in the first inning last year. Given he got rocked in spring training (5.31 xFIP), as well, we could see Gray get off to a rough start.

Montas is more of a wild card, as he missed just about the entire 2023 campaign due to a shoulder injury. But it wouldn't be surprising to see a slow return to form, and like Gray, his 4.74 xFIP in spring training suggests that he could have some early-season struggles.

While Cincinnati is expected to have a solid offense in 2024, Washington projects as one of the league's worst, per FanGraphs, which is presumably why we see plus odds for a YRFI.

But it might surprise you that the Nationals were tied for the eighth-best YRFI rate last season (32.1%) and were sixth in first inning runs per game (0.62). Three of the four batters projected to hit in the top of the order (C.J. Abrams, Lane Thomas, and Joey Meneses) spent much of 2023 occupying those top slots.

In all, we have several factors pointing to a YRFI at appealing odds.

Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays

Under 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-122)

Between most games featuring shutdown aces and/or showing cooler temperatures in the 50s, a lot of the NRFI odds are steep on FanDuel Sportsbook. But this Toronto Blue Jays-Tampa Bay Rays game is giving us the best NRFI odds among matchups with a 7.5-run total, making this a potential target.

Once again, the park is in our favor, this time giving us one of the league's most pitcher-friendly ones in Tropicana Field (28th in park factor).

Zach Eflin will take the mound for the Rays, and he was lights out in the first innings last year, boasting a 3.21 xFIP, 30.3% strikeout rate, and 3.7% walk rate. While we see some tough bats at the top of Toronto's order, the first four projected hitters all bat right-handed, so Eflin shouldn't have to worry about anyone with the platoon advantage.

The Blue Jays' Jose Berrios wasn't as dominant in the first inning in 2023, but he was solid enough with a 4.06 xFIP, 23.5% strikeout rate, and 6.8% walk rate. While the top of the Rays' order can be tricky to navigate, Berrios will have a good K opportunity against Brandon Lowe (27.3% strikeout rate in 2023). Lowe is a lefty hitter, but that's less of a concern for Berrios, who had pretty even splits last year.

Although both offenses have some potent batters who could blow up this bet, the park and pitching favor a clean opening inning at reasonable odds.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.