MLB RIFI Guide: Nationals, Mets Great Options for First Inning Bets

Yankees, Twins Best at Keeping Opponents Off Scoreboard

Gambling on the first inning bets is a popular way to make (or lose) a quick buck, and condense your excitement into one, small, manageable arena. Many factors go into a team’s success, or lack thereof, in scoring early. Let’s take a look at what’s working and what isn’t for teams in the first inning.

YRFI (Yes Run First Inning) Leaders

Washington Nationals:

This is a last-place team with a middle-of-the-pack offense that ranks 29th in home runs, but they do manage to jump on pitchers early, scoring in the first inning 41.2% of the time. Washington leads the majors in first-inning batting average (.300) and first-inning on-base percentage (.382) behind leadoff man Cesar Hernandez (.289 batting average) and No. 2 hitter Juan Soto, the MLB leader in walks.

Josh Bell, who has hit anywhere between third and fifth, is batting .452 in the first inning. Nelson Cruz, usually the cleanup hitter, is batting .432 over his last 11 games.

This weekend’s outlook: Washington visits Cincinnati for four games. The Reds allowed the most runs in the first inning (0.73) aside from Pittsburgh and Kansas City.

New York Mets:

New York has three of the top 15 players in the NL in terms of on-base percentage in Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, and Pete Alonso. Starling Marte, the usual No. 2 hitter, is allergic to walks but he’s batting .429 in the first inning and is tied with Francisco Lindor for the team lead in stolen bases with seven.

It all adds up to a headache for opposing pitchers, who have given up a run to the Mets in the first inning 41.2% of the time. When analyzing MLB betting odds as it pertains to New York, it might be worth taking a look at the opposing starting pitcher’s recent history in the first inning, as the Mets are putting teams in a big hole early.

This Weekend’s Outlook:

The Mets will be tested by Los Angeles Dodgers, who allow 0.35 runs per the first inning, the lowest in the NL. Tony Gonsolin, LA’s starter in the opener, has yielded one run in nine first innings this year. Tyler Anderson, who goes for the Dodgers on Friday, can be had early (4.29 ERA in innings 1-3, 1.88 thereafter). Walker Buehler could be an option if there’s a “run in the second inning” -bet out there- as he has given up nine runs in 10-second innings. Julio Urias has a 1.80 ERA in the first inning.

Chicago Cubs:

Tied with the Dodgers with a first-inning run-scoring percentage of 40.1, Chicago has done it despite a constantly shifting lineup. They’ve not penciled the same batting order more than two times. The one constant has been star catcher Willson Contreras, who has made all 40 of his starts while batting in one of the top four spots. He is hitting .364 with five of his eight home runs and nine of his 17 RBI in the first inning alone.

This Weekend’s Outlook:

Contreras and company will get their first look at St. Louis Cardinals rookie Matthew Liberatore. Miles Mikolas, who has allowed one run in 10 first innings this year, gets the nod Friday for the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright, the starter in Sunday’s finale, has given up five runs in the first but gets stronger as the game wears on.

As long as Contreras stays hot, it could be a good weekend to place your first inning bets on the Cubs.

NRFI (No Run First Inning) Leaders

New York Yankees:

Only the Dodgers have a better ERA among starters than New York (2.78). The quintet of Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino, Jameson Taillon, and Jordan Montgomery have combined to allow 10 earned runs in 47 first innings and the team as a whole is giving up an MLB-low 0.20 runs in the opening frame.

Diving deeper, we see that Cole gave up three of his four first-inning runs in his season debut and that Montgomery gave up two of his three first-inning runs in his season debut. So five of the rotation’s 10 earned runs in the opening frame took place in that series vs Boston to begin the year.

This Weekend’s Outlook:

Cole, Severino, and Montgomery are lined up to face the lowly Detroit Tigers, who are last in baseball in scoring by a significant margin. They did manage two first-inning runs in Wednesday night’s 4-0 win over Minnesota but side with the Yankees on your first-inning bets this weekend.

Minnesota Twins:

Minnesota revamped its rotation with the additions of Sonny Gray, Chris Paddack, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. The results have been a bit mixed overall, but the rotation has been good out of the gate, limiting opponents to 0.31 runs per the first inning.

Gray and Archer have combined to  allow 3 runs in 16 total first innings and the injured Joe Ryan has yielded just two runs in the first in his eight starts. The less-heralded Bailey Ober hasn’t allowed a run in the first or second innings in each of his six starts.

This Weekend’s Outlook:

Best to stay away from the opener of a three-game set at Toronto, as Gray has a pectoral issue and his status is unclear. Also, the Blue Jays are second in the AL with a first-inning run 37.5% of the time. Dylan Bundy, who has given up four runs in eight first innings, is a shaky option to stop the Jays on Saturday.

Boston Red Sox:

Boston’s rotation is just so-so, but it has mostly done the job early on in games, limiting opponents to 0.34 runs per the first inning. There might be a little fool’s gold here, however, as the primary five starters have given up 15 earned runs in 44 first innings, a solid but not outstanding 3.07 ERA.

Three others have combined to make six starts for the team, blanking opponents in the opening frame each time.

This Weekend’s outlook:

Nathan Eovaldi, who had a second-inning to forget three turns ago against Houston when he was rocked for five home runs and nine runs overall, gets the start in the series opener at Oakland on Friday. Rich Hill, the starter on Sunday, has a 4.00 ERA in the first after giving up two to Baltimore to begin Tuesday’s 10-0 loss.

The A’s score in the first inning just 19.2% of the time at home, the fourth-lowest mark in the majors, however, that may be the best inning for one of baseball’s worst offenses, as it has scored 27 times in the first, more than any other frame.

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