NRFI Bets to Target on Wednesday 5/15/24

Kenyatta Storin
Kenyatta Storin@KenyattaStorin
NRFI Bets to Target on Wednesday 5/15/24

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 Houston Astros

Over 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (-115)

The Houston Astros are facing a pitcher who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2022, and they're the type of offense that can do damage in a hurry. While the Oakland Athletics' side of this YRFI bet is less appealing, Houston's matchup alone arguably makes it worth a shot at these solid odds.

That matchup will be against Aaron Brooks, a 34-year-old righty who's probably most known for his successful 2020-21 stint abroad in the KBO. Unfortunately for him, he's never been able to find similar success at the big league level, owning a career 6.55 ERA and 5.11 xFIP across 180 MLB innings.

Brooks has made eight Triple-A starts in 2024, and there's little reason to think he's about to have a late-career resurgence. In that time, he's posted a 5.3% walk rate and 49.6% ground-ball rate but otherwise has a lackluster 4.71 xFIP and 16.8% strikeout rate.

For all of Houston's struggles this year, their offense certainly hasn't been the issue. The Astros are tied for fourth in YRFI rate (36.6%), which includes owning the third-best first-inning K rate (18.6%) and top-10 marks in all of wRC+ (132), ISO (.205), and walk rate (10.4%). Brooks could be in for a rude awakening in his MLB return.

The A's are much less likely to get on the board early, particularly in a tougher spot versus Framber Valdez. Over five starts, Valdez has put up a 3.32 xFIP and 61.6% ground-ball rate, which are the types of marks we've come to expect from the veteran southpaw.

The good news is that we'll likely see Oakland load up their lineup entirely with right-handed batters, so at least the team will collectively have the platoon advantage. Brent Rooker (.325 ISO in 2024) should bat third or fourth and has a team-best +470 odds to hit a home run. Those are also the fourth-best odds overall in the game.

St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Angels

Over 1st Inning 0.5 Runs (+108)

Neither of these offenses has set the world on fire with their play this season, but with a pair of potentially vulnerable pitchers on the mound, I'm willing to take a stab at one of these teams scoring in the first frame at plus odds.

The St. Louis Cardinals will take their hacks at right-hander Griffin Canning, a pitcher who's struggled across the board this year. Across eight starts, he's produced a 5.11 xFIP, 16.4% strikeout rate, 8.5% walk rate, and 33.8% ground-ball rate. The lack of punchouts and grounders have contributed to Canning coughing up 1.33 HR/9, and he's allowed 1.53 HR/9 over his career.

Canning's issues have led to him converting a NRFI in just half his starts. Put it all together, and even this sputtering Cardinals offense has a pretty good chance of plating a first-inning run.

While Canning has unremarkable splits against both sides of the plate this year, five of his six dingers have come off lefties, and he's recorded worse marks in K rate (14.5%) and walk rate (10.0%) in the split. We've recently seen Matt Carpenter bat leadoff versus right-handers, which gives St. Louis three lefties in the first five slots (Lars Nootbaar and Nolan Gorman being the other two). Those three hitters plus righty Paul Goldschmidt are among the five shortest odds to hit a home run in this matchup with Gorman leading the team at +330 odds.

Lance Lynn will take the mound for the Cardinals, and while he hasn't been the launching pad for dingers as he was in 2023, his numbers have been pretty pedestrian. The 37-year-old owns a 4.34 xFIP, 21.3% K rate, 10.1% walk rate, and 40.3% ground-ball rate over eight starts, none of which looks particularly imposing.

As was the case last year, Lynn is looking weaker against lefties, showing much worse marks compared to facing righties in xFIP (4.51 to 4.12) and strikeout rate (19.0% to 24.4%). The Los Angeles Angels have a meh lineup these days but project to have lefty sticks in three of the first four slots.

Although temperatures will be below 70 degrees at Angel Stadium, the wind will be blowing out to center at 10 mph, which should help offset the cooler weather. That's especially notable with these two fly-ball pitchers starting tonight.

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