NRFI Bets to Target on Thursday 4/4/24

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

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

Cleveland Guardians at Minnesota Twins

Under 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-136)

This game comes in with the lowest over/under (7.0) on today's slate, and temperatures might not even reach 50 degrees by first pitch. Not exactly the ideal environment for dingers.

Pablo Lopez will toe the rubber for the Minnesota Twins, and he's typically a welcome sight for a NRFI. In 2023, he recorded a 3.22 xFIP, 30.3% strikeout rate, and 5.6% walk rate in the first inning.

Although he coughed up his share of first-inning home runs -- and did so in his 2024 Opening Day start -- that's far less of a worry in these cold temperatures, and it's not like the Cleveland Guardians are a team loaded with power atop the order. Lopez was otherwise excellent in his debut, as that would be his only earned run over seven innings while piling up seven Ks versus the Kansas City Royals.

Tanner Bibee might be the shakier part of the equation after posting an underwhelming 5.67 xFIP and 18.7% strikeout rate in the first inning last year, and a bad start against the Oakland Athletics to open this campaign doesn't inspire confidence, either.

But if we look at last year's game log, Bibee kept opposing teams scoreless in 18 of 25 first innings, suggesting a handful of poor outings could be skewing the small sample. If we expand out to his first time through the order, we see a more appealing 4.18 xFIP and 26.2% K rate.

It's also worth noting that Minnesota's top of the order has gotten off to a cold start, showing the fifth-lowest first-inning wRC+ (41) to begin the year. While that will rectify itself over the long haul, it's another promising trend for Bibee today.

Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals

Under 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-130)

At first glance, a matchup between Seth Lugo and Michael Soroka probably doesn't leap off the page for a NRFI, but they'll be aided by pitcher-friendly temperatures below 60 degrees and winds blowing in from right field at roughly 10 mph. A fairly light 8.0-run total backs the notion this could be a low-scoring affair, too.

It also doesn't hurt that these two hurlers performed well early in games last season.

Among today's starters, Lugo actually produced the best xFIP in the first inning (2.94) and the first time through the order (3.27) in 2023. Most notably, he boasted a 29.0% strikeout rate in the opening frame, well above his season-long clip (23.2%).

While the right-hander didn't put up gaudy punchout numbers in his first 2024 start, he posted an encouraging 14.0% swinging-strike rate over six scoreless innings against the Twins.

Soroka is more of a question mark after splitting time between the big leagues and Triple-A last season, but his early-inning numbers were actually pretty strong in a limited sample. Across six MLB starts, he logged an impressive 2.97 xFIP and 34.8% strikeout rate in the first inning and a 3.51 xFIP and 27.8% strikeout rate the first time through the order.

Although he struggled against the Detroit Tigers last week, he put up a 34.0% K rate and 23.4% swinging-strike rate in spring training. Still just 26 years old, it's possible the former top prospect can resurrect his once-promising career with a fresh start in Chicago.

As for the offenses, both the Royals and Chicago White Sox have performed pretty well in the first inning, but it remains to be seen if they can keep that up. The Royals have otherwise been a middle-of-the-road offense (102 wRC+), and the White Sox have been near the bottom (65 wRC+), which falls in line with preseason expectations.

Regardless, our starting pitchers will still need to go through dangerous sluggers like KC's Bobby Witt Jr. and Chicago's Luis Robert, but that's where the run-suppressing weather conditions should help. Also, while both hitters already have two home runs apiece this year, they've struck out at a high clip (28.6% and 47.6%, respectively).

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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.