There is a fresh slate of series in the majors on Monday as we enter the latter third of August, a true do-or-die portion of the season. There are still plenty of first-inning scoring wagers to make. Let’s take a look at the MLB news as it relates to some early-scoring opportunities in Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.
Cubs vs Tigers
We’ve ridden the Javier Assad train a couple of times now and had some success there. And wouldn’t you know it? It’s making a stop in Motown on Monday as his Chicago Cubs try to keep pace in the NL Central.
Assad will be making his 23rd appearance but just his fifth start (fourth in a row). He’s posted a 3.20 ERA while holding opponents to a .222 average in those four prior starts, three of which have resulted in wins for Chicago.
⚡️Prop: Javier Assad Under 15.5 Outs Recorded (-160)#MLBTwitter #MLBPicks #PrizePicks #GambingTwitter #FreePicks #draftkings #fanduel #betmgm #sportsbetting #FreePlays #sports pic.twitter.com/hFIQuVgptS
— ExpertsPick (@ExpertsPick) August 21, 2023
The 26-year-old from Mexico, who will be pitching just after Tropical Hilary hits his hometown of Tijuana, has been very clean in his limited first innings. There have been four of them – all scoreless – and Assad has yielded only one single in 13 at-bats.
Given the fact that the Detroit Tigers rank 26th in first-inning scoring percentage (25.0), it’s not a stretch to assume that Assad will work a quick bottom of the first. Take that into account with any bet online you make.
That means nothing, of course, if Alex Faedo doesn’t do his job in the top half. The former first-round pick out of the University of Florida has been up and down in his second season in the majors, but there’s a lot to like.
Consider Faedo’s tiny 0.993 WHIP, a very solid number for a 45⅓-inning sample size. He brought that figure down in his last outing, surrendering one hit and one walk in five scoreless innings at Minnesota.
The 27-year-old right-hander has allowed one run in nine first innings while striking out 10 and walking one. Opponents have two hits in 28 at-bats in that frame. Do you need any more proof that this is a very good no-RIFI option? Well, here’s one more: the Cubs are 28th in first-inning scoring percentage on the road (19.0).
Cardinals vs Pirates
Bailey Falter is running out of chances to get into the win column in 2023. He’s 0-7 entering this matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals, although he’s had just three no-decisions since being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates last month.
The lanky lefty has pitched well enough to win a handful of times, including Tuesday at the New York Mets, who managed just one run in 5⅓ innings against Falter. That one run came in the first inning, however, and Falter’s ERA in that frame now sits at 6.97.
#Pirates beat the Mets, 7-4, behind a wild 7th inning.
Bailey Falter with his best outing since being acquired. Liover Peguero keeps swinging a hot bat with a mammoth homer.
— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) August 16, 2023
Opponents have a beefy .952 OPS in the first and a very healthy .941 in the second, so it’s obvious that Falter needs some time to get going. That’s not the case with the truck we’re giving away, but it might matter in terms of the MLB lines in this matchup.
It won’t help Falter’s cause that the Cardinals, despite being a bit of a mess in other areas, are a pretty solid first-inning offense. They rank 10th in OPS (.784) in that stanza.
Opposite Falter is Drew Rom, making his MLB debut. Rom came over in the Jack Flaherty trade with Baltimore and has shown some good stuff in two starts for Triple-A Memphis. Prior to that, however, he displayed plenty of command issues with some high walk totals at various stops along the way.
That’s just enough to wonder how the 23-year-old will perform on the big stage. The Pirates are sixth in all of baseball in walks, so they’ll make him work early.
Mariners vs White Sox
The challenge for Touki Toussaint in this one will be to survive that first matchup with Julio Rodriguez, who went on an absolute tear last week. The Chicago White Sox right-hander hasn’t been all that effective this month (6.91 ERA in three starts), but he remains rather stout early in ballgames.
Consider that Toussaint has a 3.42 ERA while holding opponents to a .198 average over the first three innings of a game. The second time through the order has been the issue, as teams have jumped all over him in the fourth inning (11.88).
Touki Toussaint UNDER 5.5 Ks ✅
Super free! pic.twitter.com/gPu7tX5eQt
— Ballgame 👨🏻⚕️ (@BallgameBets) August 16, 2023
That might be useful as it relates to your live betting, but we know he usually has a clean frame or two before the bottom drops out. It’s a tiny sample, but active Mariners hitters are 1-for-9 with four strikeouts against Toussaint, with Rodriguez going 0-for-2 with a K.
A much more sure thing is Seattle Mariners veteran Luis Castillo going up against the White Sox, who rank last in the AL in first-inning OPS. He’s worked at least six innings in each of his last six starts and has won his last three decisions to get to 9-7 on the season.
Opponents are batting .185 against Castillo in the first inning and .171 in the second. His ERA across those frames is 2.52. The soft-hitting White Sox shouldn’t present much of a challenge early on and your MLB picks should include another no-RIFI option here.