Skip to content

MLB Props: Handicapping First-Inning Scoring, July 5

American League West battle on our YRFI/NRFI radar

Moving on from Independence Day, we get a full slate of games for our MLB betting on Tuesday. There are a handful of first-inning scoring bets at the sportsbook that are worth looking at, including some featuring division leaders. Let’s dive in and give some guidance for your YRFI (Yes Runs First Inning) and NRFI (No Runs First Inning) wagers.

Twins at White Sox

Minnesota won in extra innings in the opener, which increased their lead over a third-place Chicago team to 5½ games. The Twins will try to expand on that gap behind Chris Archer on Tuesday.

MLB Props: Handicapping First-Inning Scoring, July 5
Andy Clayton-King/Getty Images/AFP

Archer has been solid in a bounce-back campaign, holding opponents to a .207 average in his 15 starts. He posted a 1.67 ERA in June, allowing a run in the first inning just once in six starts. 

Opponents have reached Archer for only three runs in the first in his 15 starts and they have a .635 OPS, the lowest mark for any inning for the veteran. The White Sox rank 27th in first-inning scoring percentage (21.79) and they’re even worse at home (18.42), so this could be an easy opening for the veteran.

Michael Kopech has lost three straight starts while giving up 10 earned runs in 15.1 innings, all since leaving a start with a knee issue on June 12. Opponents scored in the first in each of those three games, so he’s an iffy proposition against a Twins unit that ranks sixth overall in first-inning percentage (34.94).

However, we like this outing as a spot for a turnaround. Kopech nearly posted his second straight quality start his last time out and he got his command back in order with six strikeouts against two walks in 5.1 innings.

The former Boston Red Sox product has a 2.08 ERA at home and blanked the Twins over five frames earlier this season. The first is not his best inning, but if the MLB lines give a quality payout on an NRFI bet, go for it.

First Inning to Score: NO

Royals at Astros

Take a close look at the odds here. This one’s a bit of a stretch, but we think there could be some early action here.

Zack Greinke has been very solid for Kansas City since returning from a forearm injury. He has allowed one run in six innings in back-to-back starts. However, those were both at home against Oakland and Texas, not exactly world-beaters.

Pitching in Houston is a different sort of beast. Not only is Greinke’s lifetime ERA at Minute Maid Park (4.07), his highest of any park in which he’s pitched at least 20 games, the Astros are scoring in bunches.

Houston has 11 homers and is slugging .526 on its current homestand. That includes a 7-6 win in Monday’s series opener in which it drew six walks against Kansas City pitching. The Astros score in the first at home nearly 42 percent of the time, among the best figures in the game.

Luis Garcia is tasked with keeping the Royals off the board. He owns a 3.86 ERA in the first inning and a sub-.2.00 mark in the next three, so it’s definitely been a bump in the road for him. Four of the 13 home runs he’s given up came in the opening frame.

Kansas City’s lineup doesn’t strike fear into the heart of anyone, but it is pretty good out of the gate. The Royals scored two in the first Monday and are ninth in all of baseball in first-inning percentage on the road (30.77).

Someone’s going to break through early here.

First Inning to Score: YES

Mets at Reds

We include this one in large part because it is the return of Max Scherzer, so it’s just more fun to think about than some of the other matchups. Additionally, it presents an intriguing challenge for anyone glancing at the MLB odds, as there are a boatload of question marks here.

As it relates to first-inning scoring, few are better than Scherzer. Opponents have all of one measly hit (a home run) in 26 at-bats in the opening frame this year. He also worked scoreless firsts in each of his two rehab starts. Including those two minor-league outings, his first-inning ERA is 0.90.

Additionally, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has a remarkable history pitching in Cincinnati, where he’s allowed one run while striking out 42 in his 27 career innings. He is 6-2 with a 1.84 mark vs the Reds.

While all of that is impressive, he is a human being, and sometimes human beings who need to throw small orbs at large men with sticks can struggle to do so after they’ve been away rehabbing oblique strains. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for Scherzer to have some rust or some issues stabilizing his trademark intensity.

It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that he’ll be working with a lead. Reds starter Nick Lodolo will also be coming off the IL (back strain) and he has made 403 fewer starts than Scherzer. This is relatively uncharted territory for the young lefty.

In his three April starts, Lododo gave up nine runs in 14.2 innings. Two of them came across in the first. The Mets had 12 hits in Monday’s 7-4 win in the series opener. He will be challenged.

First Inning to Score: YES

Rays at Red Sox

The opener of this series saw Tampa Bay held to just two hits in a 4-0 loss. Now they get to face Nick Pivetta, who is 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA over an 11-start span.

He figures to carve through a Rays lineup that ranks 13th in the AL in road scoring and he has a great chance to improve upon his sparkling 1.12 ERA in the first inning. Pivetta, who holds opponents to a .164 average in the first, blanked the Rays in five frames in his last start against them at home.

He will be opposed by Jeffrey Springs, who has emerged as a key cog in Tampa Bay’s rotation. In his 10 starts, Springs has allowed just one first-inning run while limiting foes to a .423 OPS.

His only matchup with the Red Sox this season was out of the bullpen, but the lefty worked two scoreless in that one. Boston is a formidable foe at the plate, though it rarely scores a first-inning run at home (24.32 percent, tied for 25th in the majors).

When making your MLB picks, you could do a lot worse than an NRFI selection here.

First Inning to Score: NO

Featured Picks

Related News