NRFI Bets to Target on Wednesday 4/3/24

Kenyatta Storin
Kenyatta Storin@KenyattaStorin
NRFI Bets to Target on Wednesday 4/3/24

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 on Opening Day?

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

Best NRFI Prop Bets

Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics

Under 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-132)

This matchup's 8.0-run total is one of the lowest on the board, likely depressed by both cooler temperatures (around 60 degrees) and Oakland Coliseum's pitcher-friendly park factor. Although the forecast shows that the wind will be blowing out, it's not expected to pick up until later in the game and should be less of an influence in the early innings.

Add in a pair of solid pitchers in Ross Stripling and Nick Pivetta, and this looks like an appealing spot to back a NRFI.

While Stripling's 2023 numbers don't leap off the page, he's consistently performed well at the beginning of games, and last season was no exception. In the first inning last year, the right-hander posted a 3.13 xFIP, 24.4% strikeout rate, and 6.7% walk rate.

Likewise, Pivetta produced a 4.03 xFIP and 29.9% strikeout rate in the first inning last season. While his 9.0% walk rate could've been better, that's hardly a deal-breaker. It also doesn't hurt that Pivetta was brilliant in his 2024 debut versus the Seattle Mariners last week, racking up 10 Ks and allowing just one earned run in six innings (Seattle went 0-for-3 in the first inning).

Although neither one struggled with home runs in the opening frame last season, the long ball has been a concern for both pitchers over their careers, which is never what we like to see for a NRFI bet. In fact, Stripling gave up a first-inning home run in his 2024 debut.

But that's where these offenses come in. The Oakland Athletics were expected to be one of the league's worst lineups in 2024, and sure enough, they've scored in the first inning just once in six games thus far. They've begun their campaign with MLB's second-worst strikeout rate (29.8%), and that mark balloons to 39.1% in the opening inning.

The Boston Red Sox ought to be a more dangerous lineup over the long haul but come in with a 27.6% strikeout rate and .106 ISO, both of which rank fifth-worst. The top of the order has a horrendous 44.0% strikeout rate in the first inning, too.

With so many factors pointing to a NRFI, this looks like an intriguing bet to get behind on Wednesday.

Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs

Under 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-140)

With temperatures under 40 degrees, strong winds blowing in (15-plus MPH), and potential rain -- or even snow -- in the forecast at Wrigley Field, this is a gross game all around, so there's a slight chance this one gets postponed.

But if it plays, that ugly weather will make offense hard to come by, paving the way for a NRFI despite the lack of star power on the mound.

Lefty Luke Little will be the Chicago Cubs' opener, and he already has two scoreless innings under his belt in 2024. Although he has just 8 2/3 career MLB innings dating back to last season, a 35.1% strikeout rate, 15.7% swinging-strike rate, and 55.6% ground-ball rate will grab our attention. Free passes are an issue (13.5% walk rate), but we otherwise have to like what Little brings to the table.

Cal Quantrill had a forgettable 2023 campaign, and he was roughed up by the Arizona Diamondbacks last week. However, he's been solid to begin games over his career and recorded a 4.22 xFIP in the first inning last year. He's never had a high ground-ball rate (40.8% in 2023), but that could benefit him under conditions where even hard-hit fly-balls could turn into easy outs.

While the top of the Cubs' order has some thump, the same can't be said for the Colorado Rockies' lineup. Colorado enters the day 30th in wRC+ (46), and they struggle away from Coors Field every season. They've yet to score in the first inning, and that's unlikely to change tonight.

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