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Best NRFI Bets Today, April 20

Written by: Max Heering
Published April 20, 2023
13 min read
Best NRFI Bets Today April 20

Minnesota Twins vs Boston Red Sox - Kenta Maeda (RHP) vs Tanner Houck (RHP)

Under 0.5 Runs (-106 at FanDuel)

These teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to first-inning runs. The Twins are near the top for scoreless first innings while most of Boston’s games this year have had early scoring. However, with this being a day game, both teams are more likely to get off to a slow start offensively, and given Minnesota’s propensity for low-scoring games, the value is with a scoreless inning.

For the Twins, Kenta Maeda isn’t off to a great start this season, although he hasn’t allowed a run in the first inning this year despite missing all of the 2022 season. In 2021, Maeda made 21 starts and had a 2.14 ERA in the first inning with opposing hitters batting just .183 against him in the opening inning. He’s prone to strong starts, which bodes well for him with most of Boston’s hitters never facing him before.

Meanwhile, Tanner Houck also has a good track record early in games. While only making four starts in 2022, he allowed no runs and just one hit in the first inning of those starts. It was a similar story in 2021 when he made 13 starts, posting a 1.38 ERA in the first inning. With the hitters on Minnesota’s roster a combined 3 for 18 in their careers against Houck, Thursday’s matinee looks like a slow offensive start for both teams.

Los Angeles Angels vs New York Yankees - Patrick Sandoval (LHP) vs Nestor Cortes (LHP)

Under 0.5 Runs (-104 at FanDuel)

For what it’s worth, the Yankees have been one of the best teams in baseball this year at scoring in the first inning. But that trend isn’t going to continue on Thursday. Given the pitching matchup in this game between Patrick Sandoval and Nestor Cortes, look for both teams to go quietly in the first inning.

Sandoval has only conceded two earned runs on 11 hits over his first 14.2 innings of the season. The Yankees will be lucky to get any runs against him on Thursday, much less score in the first inning, especially with Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu a combined 0 for 5 against Sandoval. During his breakout season in 2022, Sandoval had a 3.33 ERA in the first inning, so he’s usually dependable early in games.

Meanwhile, Cortes has been nearly as good for the Yankees this year, going 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA. He’s also handled the trio of Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and Anthony Rendon in his career, as those hitters are a combined 1 for 14 against Cortes in their careers. Plus, Cortes has allowed just one hit in the first inning of his three starts this year and had a 3.21 ERA in the first inning last season, so there’s no reason to think he won’t be sharp early in Thursday’s game.

New York Mets Mets vs San Francisco Giants - Kodai Senga (RHP) vs Sean Manaea (LHP)

Over 0.5 Runs (-108 at FanDuel)

The late game on Thursday’s MLB schedule might be the most likely game to see a first-inning run. While neither team has been crushing it offensively this year, starting pitchers Kodai Senga and Sean Manaea could both be vulnerable, making it more likely for one of them to push across a run in the first inning. 

Obviously, nobody on the Giants has faced Senga, who remains a wild card for the Mets. But while his strikeout numbers are good, Senga has had some control problems, especially early in games. Plus, the Giants have a front-loaded lineup that includes several former Mets who will be eager to make a statement against their former team.

Meanwhile, the Mets have some hot hitters at the top of their lineup, especially Brandon Nimmo, who was 5 for 5 in Wednesday’s win over the Dodgers. Pete Alonso, who has eight home runs already this season, will also get a first-inning at-bat for New York. Finally, Francisco Lindor is 4 for 12 with three extra-base hits in his career against Manaea. Keep in mind that the Mets have faced an inordinate number of left-handed starters this year, which should have them prepared to face Manaea. Despite being sharp in the first inning early this year, the southpaw had a 5.79 ERA in the first inning of games last year. That could be a recipe for first-inning runs for the visiting team in Thursday’s game.

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Max Heering

429 Articles

Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]

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