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Best NRFI Bets Today, May 25

Written by: Bryan Zarpentine
Published May 25, 2023
13 min read
Best NRFI Bets Today May 25

Toronto Blue Jays vs Tampa Bay Rays - Alek Manoah (RHP) vs Zach Eflin (RHP)

Under 0.5 Runs (-115 at DraftKings)

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These are two of the nine teams in baseball that are hitting NRFI more than 50% of the time with the Blue Jays having the second-best NRFI record. They play a scoreless inning 58% of the time while the Rays play a scoreless first inning 51% of the time. Between that and two quality pitchers on the mound in Alek Manoah and Zach Eflin, the best value is with a scoreless first inning, especially since the DraftKings odds are equal for both scenarios.

Granted, Manoah hasn’t been at his best with a 5.15 ERA on the season. He also ran into some first-inning trouble against Aaron Judge and the Yankees earlier this month. That makes his 6.30 ERA in the first inning this year misleading because he’s tossed a scoreless first inning in five of his last six starts. The young flamethrower tends to run into trouble later in games. Manoah also had a 2.03 ERA in the first inning last season, so his track record early in games is strong.

As for Eflin, he’s off to a strong start this year, going 6-1 with a 3.45 ERA. He’s also dominated hitters in the first inning of games, allowing just one run on two hits during the first inning of his eight starts in 2023. That means he’s held the opposing team scoreless in seven of his eight starts. Against a Toronto lineup that’s struggled over the last two weeks outside of Tuesday’s 20-run outburst, it should be an uneventful first inning for Eflin on Thursday.

Baltimore Orioles vs New York Yankees - Kyle Gibson (RHP) vs Clarke Schmidt (RHP)

Over 0.5 Runs (-125 at DraftKings)

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While the Orioles are one of the better teams in baseball at playing a scoreless first inning, the Yankees are on the opposite end of the spectrum. There are first-inning runs in 59% of New York’s games. Oddly enough, the first two games of this series have remained scoreless. But that means there is bound to be some first-inning scoring on Thursday, especially with Kyle Gibson and Clarke Schmidt on the mound.

In fairness, Gibson has only allowed three runs in the first inning across his first 10 starts of 2023. He’s been a dependable part of the Baltimore rotation all year despite the Orioles losing three of his last four starts. But the Yankees who are likely to be the first four in tonight’s lineup are a combined 5 for 17 (.294) with two extra-base hits and five RBIs in their careers against Gibson. DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo are a combined 3 for 3 while Aaron Judge is on a tear right now, so it won’t be an easy first inning for Gibson.

Likewise, there have been very few easy innings for Schmidt this season. The righty owns a 6.00 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. He's not exactly lights-out early in games either with a 4.50 ERA in the first inning of games. Schmidt has also allowed first-inning runs twice in his last four games, so it’s a virtual toss-up if he can get through the first inning unscathed. With Baltimore leadoff hitter Cedric Mullins hitting .360 over his last six games, there’s an excellent chance the Orioles can get something going against Schmidt and the Yankees in the first inning on Thursday and score an early run.

Philadelphia Phillies vs Atlanta Braves - Aaron Nola (RHP) vs Dylan Dodd (LHP)

Over 0.5 Runs (-120 at DraftKings)

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Despite being separated by seven innings in the standings, both of these teams have some heavy hitters at the top of the lineup. Both teams are also coming off a win and will be looking to make a statement early in an important four-game series. That could be bad news for starters Aaron Nola and Dylan Dodd, who are both vulnerable to giving up a run in the first inning on Thursday.

Nola just can’t seem to get in a groove this year. He’s been excellent at times but ordinary at other times, posting a 4.31 ERA. In his 10 starts, he also owns a 6.30 ERA in the first inning, so he’s been unusually vulnerable early in games in 2023. 

The Atlanta lineup also poses a big threat, especially with Ronald Acuna Jr. going 14 for 39 (.359) with eight extra-base hits in his career against Nola. Likewise, Austin Riley, who hits in the no. 3 spot for the Braves, is 18 for 45 (.400) with eight extra-base hits against Nola, who won’t have an easy first inning on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Braves will rely on youngster Dylan Dodd against the Phillies. The lefty has a 6.46 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP over the first three starts of his career. 

While he’s managed to throw a scoreless first inning in two of those three starts, he’s far from a sure thing to do that on Thursday. The likes of Trea Turner and Bryce Harper await Dodd in the first inning on Thursday. 

Harper is hitting .350 over his last six games while leadoff hitter Bryson Stott is batting .381 during that same stretch, giving the Philadelphia lineup a good chance of doing damage against Dodd in the first inning.

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Bryan Zarpentine

168 Articles

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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