NRFI Bets to Target on Monday 4/29/24

Kenyatta Storin
Kenyatta Storin@KenyattaStorin
NRFI Bets to Target on Monday 4/29/24

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 today?

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

Best NRFI Prop Bets

St. Louis Cardinals at Detroit Tigers

Over 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-111)

The St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers haven't exactly been the cream of the crop offensively this season, but at these odds, I'm willing to back them for a Yes Run First Inning (YRFI) with a pair of struggling pitchers taking the mound.

Tigers righty Kenta Maeda has logged a 4.54 SIERA and 17.0% strikeout rate, and he's converted a NRFI just twice in five starts. Maeda has already coughed up seven dingers, and three of them have come in the first inning. The 36-year-old has often had issues with the long ball in his career and looks like a prime target for a YRFI.

The Cardinals' lineup has underperformed, but Willson Contreras is now batting second, and that should be music to our ears. Contreras has been by far their most productive hitter this season, coming in with 91st percentile xwOBA and 86th percentile xSLG.

If St. Louis can't get it done for us; we also have a good matchup for Detroit's bats against left-hander Steven Matz. While Matz has been 5-for-5 in NRFIs this season, he's posted rough overall numbers, including a 5.04 SIERA and 5.05 xERA. He's also produced just a 14.7% strikeout rate, which is well below his career average (22.2%).

Over his career, Matz has often had a tough time keeping the ball in the park against righties, and it's likely the Tigers will have only one lefty in the top half of the lineup. Detroit's offense has also been surprisingly good in the opening inning, too, owning the eighth-best YRFI rate (35.7%).

Note there is some rain in the forecast, so that's something to keep tabs on this afternoon.

Cincinnati Reds at San Diego Padres

Under 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-120)

It can be hard to find good value for NRFI bets in games with low totals, so these -120 odds stand out in a matchup with a 7.5-run over/under.

The reason these odds aren't shorter is likely because of San Diego Padres starter Matt Waldron, as the right-hander has been a mixed bag over five starts. Most known for his knuckleball, he's posted a 4.39 SIERA, 20.4% strikeout rate, and 8.8% walk rate this year.

While those aren't spectacular numbers, Waldron's been 82nd percentile in Statcast hard-hit rate, suggesting that opposing hitters are having trouble when that knuckleball is dancing. He survived Coors Field in his last start, holding the Colorado Rockies to just one earned run over six frames in his last start. He also kept the dangerous Los Angeles Dodgers to a lone earned run in five innings earlier this month.

There's obvious risk in depending on a pitcher who relies on such a volatile pitch, but that's where the Cincinnati Reds come in. The Reds have struggled in the first inning this season, scoring in the opening frame 17.9% of the time (T-26th in MLB). Digging deeper, their first-inning metrics are poor across the board, as they have the second-worst strikeout rate (34.2%), third-worst wOBA (.248), and 10th-worst ISO (.134).

Cincinnati recently moved Elly De La Cruz to the two-hole versus righties, which could spark more first-inning production. However, De La Cruz also strikes out at a 30.4% clip, so he won't help in that department.

Tonight's other starter, Nick Lodolo, is an easy sell despite facing a tough Padres lineup. Although the southpaw was a little shaky in his last start, he has otherwise been lights out with a 3.05 SIERA, 28.6% strikeout rate, and 5.7% walk rate over three outings. There may be only one lefty in San Diego's entire lineup tonight, but that shouldn't deter us because Lodolo's produced those numbers almost entirely against righties (60 of 70 batters faced).

Finally, Petco Park could be the final piece of the puzzle. The venue is 29th in park factor, per Baseball Savant.

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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.