One of the least busy nights in the entire MLB season takes place Thursday, with only three games in the evening. We’ll take a slight breather of our own and offer up just a couple of quick first-inning scoring suggestions for you to take to the sportsbook.
Cubs vs Cardinals
This age-old rivalry begins its latest iteration with Justin Steele going for Chicago against Miles Mikolas and the challenging St. Louis offense.
Steele remains a factor in the MLB odds for National League Cy Young Award as he continues a breakout campaign. He improved to 10-3 with a 2.95 ERA with six solid innings against the St. Louis Cardinals his last time out, bumping his career mark against them to 3-1.
The lefty has been excellent early in games as well. He owns a 2.50 first-inning ERA and has let up just one run in 18-second innings. Opponents are just 20-for-127 (.157) across those two frames with only one home run.
As for Mikolas, he had a pretty good run going until the Chicago Cubs got to him for five runs in five innings on Saturday at Wrigley Field. However, he did have a scoreless first in that one, something that’s been rare for him in 2023. The 34-year-old has a 7.86 ERA in that frame.
As we’ve mentioned before, though, many of his rocky firsts came early in the year. The Cubs rank last in the NL in first-inning scoring percentage on the road (14.6), so there’s a great opportunity for Mikolas to start strong.
Guardians vs White Sox
The other Chicago team faces another division rival when the Cleveland Guardians comes to town for four straight. The White Sox, who stole some MLB news headlines with a big trade late Wednesday, start things off with Dylan Cease, who has allowed one run on three hits in each of his last two starts, going five innings in the first and six in the second.
The former Chicago Cubs prospect has been unable to duplicate his solid 2022 campaign, but he’s been excellent early in games. His ERA in the first is 1.71 and 2.57 in the second. If you’re interested in some MLB live betting, you might want to think about Cease hitting a rough patch in the middle innings.
Cease had a pair of quality starts against Cleveland earlier in the year. We think he’ll have a chance at another with a solid early frame or two.
Cleveland will start rookie Tanner Bibee. The 24-year-old is showing no signs of hitting that rookie wall and spun seven scoreless against Philadelphia in his last outing. He has allowed seven earned runs in his 15 first innings, but four came in one start several turns ago at San Diego, which has a very good first-inning offense.
Chicago does not have that same kind of attack in the opening frame. It ranks 27th in first-inning scoring percentage and we think Bibee can exploit that. If you’re making some MLB picks here, a no-RIFI bet is a nice option.