There are many different interpretations as to what comprises the stretch run in the majors. The first day after Labor Day is as good as any. There should be a heightened level of intensity from here on out and that could factor in some first-inning scoring suggestions from time to time. Regardless, there’s always an opportunity for some MLB picks.
Tigers vs Yankees
New York enters the day with a 0.3% chance of making the playoffs. It stands to reason they’re playing more for moral victories and personal accomplishments from here on out.
For Gerrit Cole, that means trying to boost his Cy Young Award resume. The six-time All-Star, who turns 33 on Friday, is a favorite on several MLB odds sheets to take home the honor, which he’s flirted with several times.
2023 AL Pitching WAR Leaders:
Gerrit Cole (5.4)
Sonny Gray (4.5)
Nathan Eovaldi (4.1)
Shohei Ohtani (4.0)
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) September 5, 2023
Cole picked up win No. 12 with six innings of two-run ball at Detroit his last time out, keeping his ERA at a tidy 2.95. He’s slightly better (2.89) in the first inning this year, holding opponents to a .543 OPS in that frame.
That should play well at home against a Tigers offense that ranks 27th in the majors in first-inning OPS.
Detroit righty Alex Faedo has no Cy Young aspirations, at least not this year, but has shown some nice flashes here and there. He has a 2.70 ERA over his last four appearances, three of which came in a starting role.
Through his ups and downs, he’s put up a 0.82 ERA in the first inning. Opponents have managed a grand total of three hits in 35 at-bats in that stanza, so there are no issues with Faedo out of the gate.
The Yankees are generating some buzz with Jasson Dominguez, who is set to make his Yankee Stadium debut after an impressive weekend in Houston. They have won six of seven but are still hitting just .212 in that span and are just a mediocre first-inning offense.
Back Cole and Faedo at the sportsbook on Tuesday with a no-RIFI selection.
First Inning to Score: NO
White Sox vs Royals
Brady Singer skipped a start in the Royals rotation due to some recent soreness and fatigue. That leaves him as a bit of a question mark heading into his return to the mound, especially given the fact that he’s allowed 10 runs in 7⅔ innings over his last two starts.
It’s hard to know if the time off will help Singer rediscover the solid form he displayed in June and portions of July. His first inning has been somewhat shaky overall, as the 27-year-old has given up 17 runs in his 26 opening frames.
The White Sox aren’t world-beaters in the first inning, but it’s not a big stretch to expect Singer to take some time to get going.
Dylan Cease’s down year is one cause for Chicago’s rather dismal campaign. The runner-up in the 2022 AL Cy Young Award voting has seen his ERA jump to 4.91 from 2.20 last year and he’s limping to the finish line with a 10.20 mark over his last three starts.
Cease owns a 5.12 mark over the first three innings of a game. He tends to get a bit stronger in the middle innings, just in case that means something for those of you conducting some MLB live betting.
While Kansas City won’t ever be confused with the 1927 Yankees at the dish, it has put up some big numbers of late. The Royals are hitting .349 while averaging 8.3 runs over their last four games.
That’s more than enough of a solid trend to back them against Cease.
First Inning to Score: YES
Rockies vs Diamondbacks
Arizona picked up a win in the series opener to remain in a tie for the third and final wild-card spot in the NL. It will try to make it two in a row behind rookie Brandon Pfaadt.
The Kentucky kid has shown some good stuff from time to time this year, but it so often happens on the road. While pitching in Phoenix, Pfaadt is 1-4 with a 7.30 ERA and a 1.676 WHIP.
The Rockies, who rank sixth in the majors in first-inning OPS (.803), can take advantage of that in hitter-friendly Chase Field.
Kyle Freeland carries an NL-leading 14 losses into Arizona, where he is 2-4 with a 5.21 ERA in nine career starts. The one-time 17-game winner has a 6.45 mark over his last seven outings, so it’s been a bit of a drag.
Freeland’s first-inning ERA is a bit better (4.85), but he’s also served up six of his 28 home runs in that inning. The top three hitters in Arizona’s standard lineup – Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte and Tommy Pham – are a combined 21-for-63 (.333) with five homers against Freeland.
He, and likely Pfaadt, will be tested right away. Survey the MLB lines and see if a yes-RIFI wager is a good option.
First Inning to Score: YES