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Getting out to a strong start is important to any team in a Major League Baseball game. But a productive first inning is especially important for the teams in playoff races in the final few weeks of this season. Here, we make our NRFI and YRFI picks for Friday’s games, featuring several teams chasing down playoff spots.
First on our list of MLB first inning totals for Friday is a huge game in the National League Wild Card race. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs are both still in contention for Wild Card berths, as they occupy the second and third positions going into Friday’s action. Here, we like there to be at least one run scored in the first inning, as the starting pitcher on one side is not what his numbers suggest ahead of this matchup.
Zac Gallen is one of the last men standing in the NL Cy Young award race, as he has had a great season. But he has done almost all of his damage to opponents at home, and he has been pedestrian at best on the road. With his home/road splits pointing to offense in this game, look for the Cubs to have a real chance to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning.
Meanwhile, the Cubs could be threatened in the top of the first by the Diamondbacks lineup as well. Jameson Taillon has a 5.73 ERA this season and has not been the pitcher that the Cubs had hoped they were getting after Taillon’s pitching with the Yankees previously. Look for the Cubs or Diamondbacks to take advantage of the opposing pitching they are facing in this huge game in the Windy City.
In perhaps the game of the night in MLB on Friday, the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros will battle deep in the heart of Texas. The Astros have had more success this season than the Padres, as Houston leads the AL West while the Padres are all but out of postseason contention. But in this game, both teams should be even through the first inning of play, with both teams failing to score.
The Padres should be able to hang a zero on the board against the potent lineup of the Astros, thanks to Blake Snell being on the mound. Snell is the frontrunner to win the NL Cy Young award at this point in time, and he leads the league in ERA. Look for him to continue pitching at a high level, and for him to stifle an Astros team that does have some offensive weapons in their arsenal.
Meanwhile, Hunter Brown is pitching against the Padres and has a perfectly good chance to give us our second scoreless half-inning of the opening frame. San Diego ranks 17th in the league in runs scored this season, and has been a far cry from the Slam Diego team they were expected to be in 2023. Look for Brown to throw up a scoreless first inning against the disappointing Padres to help us cash this wager.
Finally, we will go with the first inning over in the interleague matchup between the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees. More than anything else, this is a fade of Luis Severino, who is getting the start for the Yankees tonight. But the Yankees are always capable of striking early in games as well, making this a great bet for the first inning of this game, which means way more to the Brewers than it does for the Yankees.
Milwaukee comes into this contest at the top of the NL Central standings, but that lead is just two games over the Chicago Cubs. As a result, the Brewers need to keep winning in order to avoid falling down into the Wild Card positions in the National League. Against Luis Severino, the Brewers should be able to get on the board in the top of the first inning to set the tone in this contest.
Severino enters this game at 4-8 on the season, with an ERA of 6.75, and he should struggle against the Brewers here. But Brewers starter Colin Rea isn’t great either, as he enters this game with an ERA of 5.07. No matter which team scores, one of them should get the job done in this intriguing Friday matchup.
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Jay Sanin is a sports bettor and writer from New York. He has been handicapping since the moment he was old enough to gamble legally, with his specialties being niche sports like the WNBA and XFL. He’s been told he has a voice for radio. He also has a face for radio.More info on Jay Sanin
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