NRFI Bets to Target on Tuesday 4/2/24

Kenyatta Storin
Kenyatta Storin@KenyattaStorin
NRFI Bets to Target on Tuesday 4/2/24

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 tonight?

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

Best NRFI Prop Bets

Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays

Under 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-111)

Despite a two-run dinger sinking this NRFI bet between these two on Monday, we're going back to the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays again tonight.

Zach Eflin is making his second 2024 start for Tampa Bay, and while the first one didn't go swimmingly (six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings), he still held a respectable 4.14 SIERA, so it's a bit premature to panic.

Among Tuesday's starters, Eflin produced some of the best first-inning metrics in 2023, including a 3.21 xFIP, 30.3% strikeout rate, and 3.7% walk rate. He posted similar numbers the first time through the order, too, with a 3.12 xFIP, 29.0% strikeout rate, and 3.6% walk rate.

Despite struggling with home runs on Opening Day (three allowed), the right-hander hasn't allowed a ton of home runs over the past two seasons (0.96 per nine innings in 2023), further suggesting his first start was flukey.

The Rangers' lineup naturally provides some challenges. In particular, both Corey Seager and Evan Carter will have the platoon advantage, and Elfin had an average K rate versus lefties (23.3%) last year. However, he still maintained a 3.56 xFIP in the split, so he's hardly a pushover against lefty sticks.

On the other side, the name Andrew Heaney probably doesn't scream NRFI but hear me out.

Despite Heaney's reputation as a launching pad for home runs, he allowed just three in the first inning last season (one per nine innings) while putting up a 3.98 xFIP and 26.4% strikeout rate. The main negative was a 10.7% walk rate, but we'll gladly take that over a NRFI-crushing dose of dingers.

Tampa Bay figures to counter Heaney with a slew of righties up top, and regulars Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena remain two of the bigger threats to derail this NRFI. This is hardly an uncommon strategy against Heaney, though, so it shouldn't really alter his outlook much.

As per usual, Tropicana Field provides a boost, ranking 27th in MLB park factor, per Baseball Savant. While the offenses add risk, we have a pair of capable pitchers, and these -111 odds are appealing for a game with an 8.5-run total.

Cleveland Guardians at Seattle Mariners

Under 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-142)

While these aren't the most exciting odds to place a wager on, this matchup has the slate's lowest total (7.0) and features a pair of aces in Shane Bieber and Luis Castillo.

Bieber was stellar in the first innings last season, rocking a 2.77 xFIP, 28.2% strikeout rate, and 5.9% walk rate. He also didn't give up a single home run. In fact, he didn't give up any round-trippers his first time through the order.

Although Castillo wasn't quite as dominant in the opening frame, he recorded a 4.04 xFIP, 24.1% strikeout rate, and 6.8% walk rate. Castillo did give up a home run here and there in that sample (1.6 per nine innings), and he was more prone to home runs against lefties overall in 2023.

While he'll face four or five lefties in a row from the Cleveland Guardians, these Guardians aren't exactly known for their pop and can lend us a hand. All the projected batters in the top half of Cleveland's lineup were on last year's squad, and the team put up the league's second-worst ISO (.138) in the first inning. The Guardians scored in the opening frame just 27.2% of the time (T-21st).

The Seattle Mariners should offer more resistance against Bieber, but his dominant first-inning numbers speak for themselves. Additionally, he was fantastic in his Opening Day start, fanning 11 over six scoreless innings in a win over the Oakland Athletics.

T-Mobile Park is last among MLB venues in park factor, further pointing to a clean first inning.

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