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Image for Bryan Zarpentine Bryan Zarpentine - Published September 7, 2023

Best NRFI Bets Today, September 7

Best NRFI Bets Today September 07 23

Seattle Mariners vs Tampa Bay Rays - Luis Castillo vs Zack Littell

Under 0.5 Runs (-115 at DraftKings)

DraftKings

9/10

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The Rays can be a tricky team with NRFI bets because they have the third-highest NRFI percentage in the majors despite ranking fifth in the league in first-inning runs scored. But Thursday’s matchup with the Mariners is one in which a scoreless inning is likely. Tampa is going with Zack Littell, who has made a nice transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation. 

Meanwhile, Tampa’s lineup could have a hard time against an elite pitcher in Luis Castillo, so this is a game that could stay scoreless for a few innings.

Castillo is coming off an unusually poor start, yielding five runs on eight hits over five innings against the Mets. However, he still ranks seventh among starters in ERA at 3.19 and second in WHIP at 1.03. Also, Castillo allowed just one total run over 14 innings prior to his start against the Mets, so he should be capable of bouncing back quickly. In fact, Castillo didn’t allow a first-inning run in that start against the Mets, lowering his first-inning ERA to 3.21.

As for Littell, he has been brilliant in the first inning this year, posting a 0.90 ERA over his 10 starts. He’s allowed just one run on eight hits during the first inning of his starts. Granted, Littell isn’t necessarily built to go deep into games, so he’s ended up struggling at times in the third, fourth, and fifth innings. But as a longtime relief pitcher, he's built to pitch well in his first inning of work, which is a big reason why it makes sense to bet on a scoreless inning between the Mariners and Rays on Thursday.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Miami Marlins - Ryan Pepiot vs Braxton Garrett

Under 0.5 Runs (-115 at DraftKings)

DraftKings

9/10

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It’s not easy to bet in favor of a scoreless inning for any game involving the Dodgers because Los Angeles ranks second in the majors in first-inning runs. However, the Dodgers haven’t been scoring early in games lately. Equally important, the Marlins are at the other end of the spectrum, ranking second to last in the big leagues in first-inning runs. Thursday’s series finale between these teams also features two pitchers in Ryan Pepiot and Braxton Garrett who are more than capable of tossing up zeros, making this game a good bet to remain scoreless after the first inning.

Garrett, like most of Miami’s starters, has been exceptional in the first inning this year, which is why the Marlins are hitting NRFI 63% of the time to lead the majors. The lefty owns a 2.77 ERA in the first inning of games. He also posted a 3.54 ERA over his five starts in August. The caveat is that Garrett allowed a first-inning run in his last start. However, that’s the only time in his last six starts that Garrett conceded a run in the first inning, including a start last month against the Dodgers. His track record this year shows that he should be able to return to pitching a scoreless first inning quickly.

On the other side, Pepiot has looked nothing short of outstanding in his three starts since returning to the Los Angeles rotation. While he’s only pitched 14 innings across those three starts, he’s yielded just two runs on eight hits, so he’s not giving up much in any inning. In fact, his first start of the year came last month against the Marlins with Pepiot allowing one run on three hits over five innings. He’s fresh off five scoreless innings against the Diamondbacks in his last start and is yet to allow a first-inning run in his three starts. Needless to say, he looks sharp enough to handle a Miami lineup that ranks second in first-inning runs this year.

Detroit Tigers vs New York Yankees - Eduardo Rodriguez vs Carlos Rodon

Under 0.5 Runs (-105 at DraftKings)

DraftKings

9/10

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The Yankees have somehow turned things around, winning eight of their last nine games. But that still doesn’t make them a good bet to score runs in the first inning, especially against a top-notch pitcher like Eduardo Rodriguez. In fact, the Yankees and Tigers rank 20th and 21st, respectively, in first-inning runs scored. The Tigers have scored just four total runs over the first two games of this series, so they aren't likely to suddenly get going in the first inning of Thursday’s game against Carlos Rodon.

Of course, this hasn’t been a great season for Rodon. He was sidelined by an injury until July and hasn't pitched particularly well since coming back. But in his nine starts, he’s posted a respectable 4.00 ERA in the first inning. Last year, the lefty excelled in the first inning, posting a 3.19 ERA, so he’s accustomed to pitching well early in games. Most of Rodon’s first-inning trouble came during his first few starts. He’s actually held teams scoreless in the first inning five times in his last six starts, a trend that should continue against the Tigers.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez boasts a 3.00 ERA in the first inning of his 21 starts this year. He’s also allowed one run or less over six-plus innings in three of his last five starts. Rodriguez did allow a first-inning run against the Astros a couple of starts ago. But that’s the only time in his last five starts that an opposing team managed to get to him in the opening inning. While a couple of Yankees have a good track record against Rodriguez, Aaron Judge is not one of them, going 6 for 31 (.194) in his career against Rodriguez. If the Yankees score runs early, Judge will probably be in the middle of things, but that seems unlikely with his poor career numbers against Rodriguez, which should allow this game to remain scoreless after the first inning.

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AUTHOR

Bryan Zarpentine

95 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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