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Best NRFI Bets Today, May 11

Written by: Bryan Zarpentine
12 min read
Best NRFI Bets Today, May 11

San Diego Padres vs Minnesota Twins - Yu Darvish (RHP) vs Bailey Ober (RHP)

Under 0.5 Runs (-130 at DraftKings)

Pitching is likely to dominate Thursday’s matinee between the Padres and Twins, especially with Yu Darvish and Bailey Ober on the mound. The Twins, in particular, are playing a scoreless first inning in over half of their games this year while the Padres are closer to the 50% mark in NRFI. That helps to give some value to a scoreless first inning in this game, especially with two great pitchers on the mound.

While this is only Ober's fourth start of the season, he’s allowed just two runs over 18.1 innings. In fairness, one of those runs came in the first inning of a game. But there’s no question that he's been sharp this year and should have success early with most of San Diego’s hitters never facing him before. Ober also had a 2.45 ERA in the first inning and a 1.64 ERA in the second inning last season, so he typically performs well the first time through the lineup.

As for Darvish, he’s off to a fine start, going 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA over his first six starts of 2023. He’s allowed just one earned run in four of those six starts, so he's not giving up much regardless of the inning. To be more specific, Darvish has thrown a scoreless first inning in four of those six starts. Equally important, the Twins are in an offensive funk, scoring just 10 total runs in their last five games. That should make it a little easier for Darvish to start strong and keep Minnesota from scoring in the first inning. 

Chicago White Sox vs Kansas City Royals - Mike Clevinger (RHP) vs Brady Singer (RHP)

Over 0.5 Runs (-130 at DraftKings)

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These are two of the worst teams in baseball this season, although both have excelled in playing games with early scoring. The Royals scored four runs in the first inning of their 9-1 win over the White Sox on Wednesday, meaning these teams have combined to go 32-44 NRFI - YRFI. That’s a good indicator that at least one of these teams can score a first-inning run on Thursday. 

Chicago’s Mike Clevinger hopes to keep the Royals under wraps early, although his 4.84 ERA and 1.53 WHIP indicate that won’t be easy. While he’s pitched well at times, Clevinger has also allowed a first-inning run in three of his seven starts. That indicates a pitcher who can be vulnerable early in games. Plus, Clevinger is going up against a confident Kansas City lineup that scored nine runs on Wednesday and has scored at least five runs in seven of its last nine games, averaging seven runs per game during that stretch.

Meanwhile, Brady Singer is giving up runs almost non-stop this year. He’s taken a huge step backward in 2023, going 2-4 with an 8.82 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. Surprisingly, he hasn't allowed a first-inning run in three straight starts. But there have also been games when Singer has been knocked around early. Also, Chicago’s leadoff hitter Tim Anderosn is 7 for 13 (.538) with a double in his career against Singer, so it’s not a stretch to think the White Sox can get something going early in Thursday’s game. If Clevinger doesn’t do it, Singer seems likely to struggle early and allow a run in the first inning.

San Francisco Giants vs Arizona Diamondbacks - Alex Cobb (RHP) vs Tommy Henry (LHP)

Under 0.5 Runs (-110 at DraftKings)

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Both of these teams have seen runs scored in the first inning more times than not. In fact, both teams have excelled at being the team that scores early rather than being the team giving up the run. However, Thursday’s NL West rivalry game features two pitchers in Alex Cobb and Tommy Henry who excel at tossing a scoreless first inning, giving no runs in the first inning some good value.

In Cobb’s case, he’s off to a fantastic start in 2023. The 35-year-old has made seven starts and owns a 2.01 ERA. He’s given up more than two total runs in just one of those seven starts. Not surprisingly, he’s been dominant in the first inning of games. Cobb has allowed just one unearned run and no earned runs in the first inning of his seven starts, yielding just two walks and three hits.

Henry hasn’t been quite as good, posting a 5.17 ERA over his three starts. In the first inning of those three starts, the only hit the Arizona left has allowed was a home run. But one run in three innings isn’t bad. Plus, Henry allowed just two first-inning runs in his nine starts in 2022, so he’s typically gotten off to good starts, which should allow him to hold the Giants scoreless in the first inning of Thursday’s game.

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Bryan Zarpentine

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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.

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