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Best NRFI Bets Today, May 4

Written by: Bryan Zarpentine
Published May 4, 2023
13 min read
Best NRFI Bets Today May 4

Detroit Tigers vs New York Mets - Justin Verlander (RHP) vs Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP)

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Both the Tigers and Mets are among the top five teams in baseball at playing a scoreless first inning. On that fact alone, this is a good bet. Despite their poor record, Detroit’s starters have allowed a first-inning run just three times in 29 games while the Mets have allowed a run in the first inning just five times in 31 games.

The Mets will also benefit from Justin Verlander finally making his season debut. The former Tiger will be pitching in a familiar setting and looked good in his last minor league rehab outing, so there shouldn’t be any butterflies or reason to think that he won’t hit the ground running. In 2022, Verlander posted a 1.61 ERA in the first inning, allowing just five earned runs in the opening inning of his 28 starts, so there is every reason to think he’ll have a strong first inning on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Mets have been wildly inconsistent offensively, scoring just one run in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader. They will be facing Eduardo Rodriguez, who has posted a 2.21 ERA this season. In his six starts, the lefty is yet to allow a first-inning run, surrendering just five total hits. Also, the first four hitters in New York’s lineup are a combined 4 for 19 (.211) against Rodriguez in their careers, reducing the chances that the Mets will be able to get anything going offensively in the first inning.

Atlanta Braves vs Miami Marlins - Max Fried (LHP) vs Jesus Luzardo (LHP)

Under 0.5 Runs  (-115 at DraftKings)

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With Max Fried facing Jesus Luzardo, Thursday’s game between the Braves and Marlins looks like it could be a pitcher’s duel. It’s also worth noting that the Marlins are the best team in baseball at playing a scoreless first inning, doing so in 21 of their 31 games, hitting NRFI 68% of the time. With an early start time and two good pitchers, that trend should continue.

In Fried’s case, he’s allowed just one run over his first 20 innings of work this year. The southpaw has conceded just three hits in the first inning of his four starts. In 30 starts last year, Fried allowed just three runs on 15 hits in the first inning of games, giving him a first-inning ERA of 0.90. Allowing runs in the first inning of games is just not something that he does. Even with reigning American League batting champ Luis Arraez leading the way, the Miami lineup doesn’t stand much of a chance in the first inning of this game.

While not quite as dominant as Fried, Luzardo has had a promising start to the season. The Peruvian lefty is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA over his first six starts. More importantly, he’s allowed a total of just one hit in the first inning of those six starts. He's been close to perfect in the opening inning after posting a 1.50 first-inning ERA in his 18 starts in 2022. Plus, Ronald Acuna and Matt Olson, who typically hit first and second for Atlanta, have combined to go 2 for 15 in their careers against Luzardo, which should make it hard for the Braves to get anything off Luzardo in the first inning. 

Toronto Blue Jays vs Boston Red Sox - Kevin Gausman (RHP) vs Bryan Bello (RHP)

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This is an interesting matchup because these teams are on opposite sides of the NRFI spectrum. The Blue Jays have played a scoreless first inning 19 times in 31 games. Only the Marlins and Tigers have played a scoreless first inning more frequently. However, the Red Sox have scored first-inning runs 20 times in 32 games, so we’re inclined to think that will win out in Thursday's game between these AL East rivals.

To be fair, Toronto starter Kevin Gausman has thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings. He’s clearly found his groove. However, he got roughed up for seven runs in the first inning against the Astros earlier this year, so he’s not been flawless early in games, giving the Red Sox a chance to do some damage in the opening inning.

Of course, if there are going to be first-inning runs in this game, they’ll likely come from Toronto. Even though the Blue Jays have scored in the first inning just 12 times in 31 games, they are in a position to do damage against Brayan Bello in this game. The top of Toronto's order in George Springer, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are a combined 12 for 24 in their careers against Bello, so the Jays are likely to put ducks on the pond in the first inning. While Bello has only allowed first-inning runs in one of his three starts this year, he owned a 6.55 ERA in the first inning of his 11 starts last year, which points to trouble for Boston's starter.

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AUTHOR

Bryan Zarpentine

140 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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