In the midst of another massive college football slate, this Saturday presents a unique opportunity to find a handful of value-filled lines on the Major League Baseball schedule.
The postseason is only a few weeks away, and while we know the bulk of the teams likely representing in October, there's still a handful of squads that can make a late run to either get in, or better solidify their position in their respective Wild Card or division standings.
For today's games, I'm targeting a no-run-first-inning (NRFI) in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the country, while also grabbing a yes-run-first-inning (YRFI) in a very pitcher-friendly park.
Let's dive in and go for two early dubs this evening.
Best NRFI Bet Today
Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds
Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati trends on being one of the best places in baseball to hit, but I'll back both starting pitchers to handle the conditions for one inning.
Corbin Burnes isn't just the reigning National League Cy Young winner. He's also one of the best first inning pitchers in baseball. He owns the third-best Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP in all of baseball in the first inning (1.44) and the fifth-best expected FIP (xFIP) at 2.33. He's given up four earned runs all season in the opening inning and has yet to allow an earned run in 12.2 innings at Great American Ballpark.
Meanwhile, Reds starter Graham Ashcraft has also been very solid in the first inning this year with a 3.38 ERA, and a 2.05 FIP which ranks eighth-best in baseball in the first.
-145 may be a bit pricey, but both of these starters dominate the first inning this year.
Best YRFI Bet Today
Seattle Mariners at Kansas City Royals
Kris Bubic takes the mound on Fan Appreciation Night for the red-hot Royals; winners of four straight games. Unfortunately for him and for Royals fans, I expect the Mariners to do what they've done throughout the season and take advantage in the early going.
Bubic ranks 172 out of 178 qualified pitchers in first inning FIP this year, and his strikeout-walk percentage is -2.5%. Not ideal vs. a Seattle team that owns the second-best YRFI record in baseball this season; going 80-70 overall, and a remarkable 48-31 on the road this year.
Logan Gilbert presents a challenge for the Royals, but his strong 2.10 ERA in the first inning is a bit deceiving. His peripherals say he's been quite lucky this year in the early going, with a FIP and xFIP more than a full run higher (3.21 FIP, 3.24 xFIP).
Kansas City has been hitting much better of late, averaging just under five runs per game during their winning streak. The bet is mostly on Seattle to get to Bubic early, but don't be surprised if KC also gets one or more on the board vs. the very talented Gilbert as well.
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