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MLB First Look: Brewers Could Pounce Early on Cole, Yankees

Giolito Primed for Solid Opening in Detroit

It’s Week 2 in the NFL, a great time to focus on baseball and our weekly dive into first-inning scoring bets. It’s a tricky time of the year in the majors, as many teams are changing starting pitcher assignments on the fly. Playoff-bound teams opt to get key pitchers rest, while those just playing out the string see opportunities to give a newcomer a shot.

With that in mind, check these probable matchups, as some could change. However, we’ve tried to stick with assignments that seem to be solid and to focus on those that might have you scratching your head a bit as you pour over the MLB odds sheet.

MLB First Look: Brewers Could Pounce Early on Cole, Yankees
Jim McIsaac / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

As well explore a variety of other MLB odds here to win!

White Sox vs Tigers, Friday

This very important series opener (for Chicago, at least) pits the Pale Hose against Matt Manning, who has shown some nice flashes in his sophomore campaign.

The 24-year-old held Kansas City to two earned runs in 6⅓ innings in his previous turn to rebound from a couple of rocky outings. The Royals did get to him for a first-inning run, but it was just the third he’s allowed in 10 starts.

Manning has been pretty clean at home, limiting opponents to a .206 average and a .262 on-base percentage, solid numbers that might factor into your bet online.

Lucas Giolito goes for the White Sox coming off an up-and-down campaign. He let up a first-inning run at Oakland his last time out but had scoreless firsts in his previous seven starts. In addition, the one-time All-Star has been exceptional on the road as the season has progressed, going 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA over his last seven away from home.

Detroit is last in the American League in first-inning scoring percentage (18.2), and it has scored a total of four runs during a four-game losing streak entering this one.

If the MLB lines are in your favor, back Manning and Giolito in an NRFI (No Runs First Inning) bet Friday.

First Inning to Score: NO

Pirates vs Mets, Friday

Taijuan Walker seemingly got back on track his last time out, allowing a run in seven frames against Miami. Sure, it was the Marlins, but sometimes just getting through a dominant outing can right a ship.

During his recent struggles, Walker had a rough one at Pittsburgh, giving up four runs in five innings. However, he did have a scoreless first and now gets to face a Pirates bunch that scores just 16.4% of the time in the opening frame on the road, 28th in the majors.

Mitch Keller has a few numbers stacked against him in this one. He’s only so-so on the road (4.09 ERA) and has endured some rocky openings (5.04 first-inning ERA). However, we would like the 26-year-old to keep this nice run he’s been on alive.

Since getting rocked by Atlanta in a home start on Aug. 24, Keller has limited opponents to two runs in 19 innings over three outings. He carries a 15-inning scoreless streak into New York.

While the Mets have been a prolific first-inning bunch for much of the season and showed it with two runs in the opening stanza in Thursday’s series opener, they have struggled lately in that scenario. Their first-inning scoring percentage at Citi Field is a very solid 43.8, but it was 47.5 one month ago, 48.8 two months ago, and over 57 percent in mid-June.

It’s been quite a fall, and before Friday’s seven-run outburst, New York scored only eight runs in its last five home contests.

First Inning to Score: NO

Orioles vs Blue Jays, Saturday

Toronto bumped Jose Berrios from starting last weekend to have him line up twice this week against division rivals Tampa Bay and Baltimore. It showed growing confidence in the talented right-hander, who stymied the Rays on Monday.

He also got the better of Baltimore in his previous start and has a 2.93 ERA over his last five starts. However, Berrios can be done early if he’s off just a bit – as he’s been often in 2022. His ERA in the first inning is 4.65, and it’s 5.66 from innings one through four.

Much of that resulted from some brutal early-season outings, and our confidence in a clean first for Berrios is certainly not low. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for his counterpart, Kyle Bradish, who the Blue Jays have knocked around in 2022.

The rookie has faced Toronto four times and given up 14 runs on 26 hits in 17⅔ innings. The first four hitters in the Blue Jays’ usual lineup – George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Alejandro Kirk – are a head-turning 17-for-34 with three home runs and four doubles against Bradish.

Berrios might put up an early goose egg, but Bradish will be challenged immediately. So take that advice to the sportsbook when making your MLB picks.

First Inning to Score: YES

Reds vs Cardinals, Saturday

Dakota Hudson returns to the St. Louis rotation after a brief stint in the minors, where he had two very good outings. His last start in the bigs was at Cincinnati on Aug. 30, and he was pounded for five runs on nine hits in 4⅔ innings.

Hudson has a 4.39 ERA in the first inning. Not horrendous, but it is the highest mark he has among the first six innings. The former first-round pick, who turned 28 on Thursday, is known for his high walk totals, but seeing 14 free passes next to 14 strikeouts in his opening frames is still jarring.

While the Reds are simply playing out the string, they’ve been an okay offense on the road lately, averaging nearly five runs a game in their last 10 away from home. They’ve also steadily raised their first-inning scoring percentage on the road over the past couple of months, from 14.6 percent to its current 22.2.

Even if Hudson escapes the first unscathed, Mike Minor gives any YRFI bettors a chance. He has a 2.50 ERA in the first, but there’s been plenty of traffic on the bases, as opponents are batting .275 with six walks and a hit batter in those 18 frames.

Minor gave up a first-inning run his last time out against Pittsburgh, which got to the one-time All-Star for six runs in five innings overall while hammering three homers. The Cardinals have knocked around Minor in two matchups in 2022, and he has a 6.11 ERA in his career at St. Louis.

First Inning to Score: YES

MLB First Look: Brewers Could Pounce Early on Cole, Yankees
Dylan Buell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Yankees vs Brewers, Sunday

The finale of this interleague set pits Gerrit Cole of UCLA fame against Jason Alexander, a Long Beach State product. These California kids have had very different professional experiences thus far, but both might be susceptible to some early offense in this one.

Cole has often had first-inning issues. His career ERA in that frame is 4.24 – higher than any other inning – and it’s at 4.03 in 2022. Home runs have given him fits this year, and eight of the 27 he’s allowed have come in the first inning.

Cole has not always brought his best stuff to Milwaukee, where he has a 4.65 ERA in seven career starts. Opponents have gone deep against the 32-year-old six times in his last four starts, and the Brewers are third in the majors in home runs.

Cole is Cole. He might absolutely dominate on Sunday. But there’s plenty to indicate that he’s ripe for the picking in this one, especially considering that the Brewers score a first-inning run at home 39.4% of the time, fourth in the majors entering the weekend.

Alexander will be making his 11th career start. He’s given up nine runs in his first 10 first innings, so there’s not much confidence in him getting through Aaron Judge and company. Nevertheless, the Brewers have to hope he’ll at least be a bit better than his last time out when the Reds recorded a home run, a triple, three singles, one walk, and one hit batter in a five-run first against Alexander.

First Inning to Score: YES

Marlins vs Nationals, Sunday

Anibal Sanchez gets the nod for Washington in this series finale. He’s a pretty remarkable figure in an otherwise lost season for the Nationals, having come back at the age of 38 after missing all of 2021 and posting an atrocious 6.62 ERA in 2020.

Most would just walk away at that point, but he was intent on pitching again, even after opening the season on the IL. He had some rocky stretches upon joining Washington’s rotation in July but is 2-0 with a 1.16 ERA over his last five starts.

The one-time ERA champ has also not allowed a first-inning run in his last nine outings. That trend will probably continue against a Marlins team that ranks last in the majors in first-inning scoring percentage on the road (12.5).

Miami goes with its ace in Sandy Alcantara. While he’s put up a 5.28 ERA over the last five starts, only one involved a first-inning run. His ERA in that frame is 1.55, and he has dominated the Nationals this year, allowing two runs in 23 innings overall.

First Inning to Score: NO

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