Teams are clinching various scenarios these days in Major League Baseball, which will make the pitching probables an ever-changing situation. For now, we’ll focus on some solidified matchups in our latest look at first-inning scoring bets, a quick and easy option at the sportsbook.
Astros vs Rays
As you know, gambling is a balance between what you get back relative to what you put in. In the case of this matchup in Tampa Bay Rays, you won’t get a ton back into your pocket if you’re making any sort of bet that sides with starters Christian Javier and Shane McClanahan. They’re just that good.
You should, however, receive a nice payout if you can find a way to bet online in favor of some early scoring against those two. Let’s look at a few numbers that might get someone to bite.
McClanahan has been dominant in every frame this year, but he’s certainly someone who tends to get stronger as games go on. He’s given up seven runs in his 25 first innings while allowing four long balls, more than any other inning.
The Astros lead the majors with 37 first-inning homers (including Jose Altuve’s to begin the series) and top the American League in first-inning scoring percentage (35.1). They’re the type of lineup that can get one of those rare early runs against McClanahan, and they’re clicking right now.
As for Javier, he owns a 3.68 ERA in the first inning, the second-highest for him behind only the second inning (4.50). He’s given up five home runs in the first, five in the second and a total of seven in all other frames, so it’s clear that he tends to groove a few early on.
The 25-year-old has also issued 11 walks in his 22 first innings, and the Rays lead the AL in first-inning walks with 66. That’s not a great recipe for a clean inning, and Javier hasn’t had many of those in his limited history against Tampa Bay. In three lifetime encounters (including the postseason), he’s allowed six runs while walking four in eight total innings.
Analyze the MLB lines to see if going against two solid hurlers is worth it. We think it might be.
First Inning to Score: YES
Tigers vs Orioles
These are two of the lowest-scoring teams in the first inning, ranking 27th (Baltimore) and 28th (Detroit) in runs scored in the opening stanza. That gives us one big component to this pick, and after digging a little deeper we have no problem making a call on this one.
Austin Voth is starting for Baltimore Orioles six days after he got the win with a scoreless inning of relief. As a starter this year, Voth has been outstanding. He’s 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA in that role, all of which came with Baltimore after he and his 10.13 ERA were dropped by Washington in June.
Within that stretch with the Orioles, Voth has allowed three runs in 14 first innings, posting a scoreless first in 12 of his 14 starts. Opponents are hitting .180 against him in that frame, during which the 30-year-old has posted 15 strikeouts against only two walks.
Voth will be opposed by rookie Joey Wentz, whose sample size (four starts) is small, but perhaps telling in a few areas. Opponents have four hits in 16 at-bats in the first inning against Wentz and all four hits have been singles. He’s let in just one run in those four firsts.
A first-round pick in 2016, Wentz has given up only two runs in 14⅔ innings over his last three starts, and his lone career road outing resulted in six scoreless frames at Kansas City. The Orioles might get to him at some point, but expect a few clean ones first and make your MLB picks with that in mind.
First Inning to Score: NO
Red Sox vs Reds
Here we have a pair of promising rookies going at it, both of whom seem to have figured a few things out as their first season winds down. Throwing out the opening pitch for Cincinnati Reds will be Nick Lodolo, who has a 2.21 ERA and 31 strikeouts – 11 in each of his last two – in 20⅓ innings in September.
The 24-year-old lefty possesses a 3.94 ERA in the first inning, but he hasn’t allowed a single tally in the opening frame for six consecutive starts. In addition, he owns an impressive 2.77 mark – along with 75 strikeouts in 55⅓ innings – in his 10 home starts.
That should give you plenty to consider when staring at Lodolo’s name on the MLB odds sheet.
Brayan Bello has also had some dominant moments of late for Boston as he gets a good look from management that will need to re-assess its pitching needs this offseason. He has allowed three earned runs in 16⅔ innings spread over three starts this month.
The youngster from the Dominican Republic has not let up a first-inning run in each of his last five starts, including last Wednesday against Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees.
These two offenses are rather average when it comes to first-inning scoring. They should be pretty silent early on against two young hurlers who are certainly feeling it of late.
First Inning to Score: NO