NRFI Bets to Target on Wednesday 5/1/24

Kenyatta Storin
Kenyatta Storin@KenyattaStorin
NRFI Bets to Target on Wednesday 5/1/24

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

Chicago Cubs at New York Mets

Under 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-125)

On paper, we're getting a potential low-scoring game between the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets, a game that's showing a modest 7.5 over/under. Starting pitchers Jose Butto and Shota Imanaga have impressed so far this season, and mild temperatures in the 60s paired with pitcher-friendly Citi Field should further entice us for a NRFI tonight.

Beginning with Butto, the Mets righty is a bit lucky to have a 2.86 ERA -- a miniscule .208 BABIP will do that -- but he's still put together a solid 4.08 SIERA that's backed by a 27.8% strikeout rate and 12.4% swinging-strike rate. He's successfully converted a NRFI in 3-of-4 outings, as well.

While Butto's been lethal in same-handed matchups this year (37.2% K rate), he's been far less effective versus lefties (19.1% K rate). Most concerningly, he's also doled out a 19.1% walk rate facing left-handed batters.

Butto is projected to see at least two lefties in his lineup between Mike Tauchman and switch-hitter Ian Happ, and both tend to be patient hitters. Luckily, Happ is off to a slow start, so if Butto can navigate around Tauchman, we should like our chances.

As for Imanaga, he hasn't allowed a run in the first inning over five starts, and he boasts a stellar 3.13 SIERA, 25.9% strikeout rate, and 2.8% walk rate. The southpaw has put up those marks while mostly facing right-handed batters, so a righty-heavy Mets lineup shouldn't deter us, either.

Additionally, New York's offense hasn't performed well in the first inning, tied for 23rd in YRFI rate (20.7%).

Cleveland Guardians at Houston Astros

Over 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-115)

I prefer to target matchups where we can make a strong case for both sides coming through with the NRFI or YRFI -- but in this case, right-hander Triston McKenzie checks so many boxes for a shelling at the hands of the Houston Astros that I'm willing to make an exception.

Through five starts, McKenzie has posted a 6.00 SIERA, 17.6% strikeout rate, 16.7% walk rate, and 30.3% ground-ball rate. With numbers like that, it's remarkable he's allowed first-inning runs in just 2-of-5 outings so far. Houston could add to his tally as an offense that ranks fifth in YRFI rate (41.4%).

McKenzie has particularly had issues with lefty sticks, recording a 13.1% strikeout rate and 6.41 xFIP in the split. Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are the stuff of nightmares for him.

Justin Verlander will get the nod for Houston, and while that definitely isn't ideal for the Cleveland Guardians coming through for us, we can at least find a few positives.

Verlander has made two 2024 starts, and early returns have been positive for the veteran right-hander, as he's allowed just a pair of earned runs over 10 1/3 innings. However, he's also given up five barrels already, giving him a less stellar 4.50 xERA thus far.

Those barrels could mean nothing over a small sample -- and quality of contact numbers are far more reliable for batters anyway -- but at 41 years old, a steep drop in performance for Verlander isn't out of the question.

Further, he struggled in the first inning last season, logging a 5.90 xFIP, 17.1% strikeout rate, and 10.6% walk rate. That included allowing nine first-inning home runs in 27 starts. Verlander has been a fly-ball pitcher throughout his career, so dingers have sometimes been a part of the equation even over some of his best campaigns.

This year, he's showing a 48.0% fly-ball rate, so there's an outside shot the Guardians can cash this bet with a solo shot, particularly with the top half of the lineup likely all having the platoon advantage.

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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.