NRFI Bets to Target on Thursday 4/11/24

Kenyatta Storin
Kenyatta Storin@KenyattaStorin
NRFI Bets to Target on Thursday 4/11/24

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

Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers

Over 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-128)

Between a pair of struggling pitchers and a slate-high 9.5-run over/under, this looks like a spot to consider a Yes Run First Inning (YRFI).

At first glance, the Oakland Athletics are the obvious weak link in this YRFI bet, but they've actually scored in the first inning 33.3% of the time this season, which is tied for the 10th-best mark -- and just so happens to be the same rate as these Texas Rangers. While Oakland's lineup as a whole still leaves a lot to be desired, they're at least getting solid contributions from the top half so far.

The Athletics' bats should get a big lift from Texas starter Jon Gray, as well. Gray hasn't looked right through two starts, showing a worrisome 12.5% strikeout rate and 15.0% walk rate. His ghastly 6.14 ERA almost perfectly mirrors his 6.27 SIERA.

While Gray had a pretty good 2023 campaign and generally posted quality marks in the early innings, he coughed up 1.9 home runs per nine innings in the first frame and 1.7 per nine the first time through the order. In general, he was more susceptible to the long ball facing lefties, and he ought to see at least two from the A's in the first inning.

The Rangers' lineup needs no introduction, and they'll get to take their hacks against JP Sears. Sears was a launching pad for dingers in 2023, giving up just under 1.8 per nine innings off a 52.5% fly-ball rate. He's already given up a pair over his two 2024 starts alongside a dreadful 7.00 SIERA and 4.5% strikeout rate.

Sears also has the worst 2023 first-inning numbers among Thursday's starters with a 6.16 xFIP, 18.8% strikeout rate, and 12.8% walk rate. He gave up 2.0 homers per nine innings in the opening inning, too.

In all, it feels likely that at least one of these lineups gets on the board early, and both pitchers could let that happen with one swing of the bat.

Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox

Under 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-115)

Although the Baltimore Orioles have performed well at the plate in this series, they've been a middle-of-the-pack offense this season, and the Boston Red Sox are in the same boat. Both teams have been below average in the first frame, and the Orioles in particular have scuffled, scoring in just 18.2% of their first innings.

With that in mind, we should have confidence in Garrett Whitlock and Grayson Rodriguez combining for a NRFI.

While Rodriguez has given up a few home runs, he's otherwise been stellar in his opening starts with a 2.72 SIERA, 32.7% strikeout rate, and 6.1% walk rate. He produced a 3.61 xFIP in the first inning last season, one of the day's better marks.

He was a more average pitcher against lefties in 2023, and the Red Sox tend to have a lefty-heavy lineup versus right-handers. But with cool temperatures well below 60 degrees at Fenway tonight, we shouldn't worry as much about a home run sinking us.

Boston's rotation has been impressive to open the season, embracing a revamped strategy laid out by new pitching coach Andrew Bailey. Whitlock has been a key part of their success and has allowed just one earned run through 9 1/3 innings. While he struggled with control in his last outing, his 30.8% strikeout rate is promising, and he performed quite well in spring training, too.

Utilized as both a starter and a reliever in 2023, Whitlock logged just 10 starts last season, but he recorded a 3.57 first-inning xFIP in that sample.

Home runs were a problem for Whitlock last year, but some of that could've been bad luck off a bloated 16.5% HR/FB rate, and he hasn't given up a dinger yet in 2024.

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