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1st Inning Bets: Webb Looks to Continue Home Dominance

We took a few on the chin with Wednesday night’s RIFI advice. It happens. The numbers were in our favor for each selection but baseball can work in odd ways sometimes. All we can do is get back on that horse, survey the MLB moneyline offerings for Thursday, and provide some more first-inning scoring suggestions.

We only have two night games to choose from, so here’s what we think about those two affairs.

1st Inning Bets: Webb Looks to Continue Home Dominance
Logan Webb #62 of the San Francisco Giants -Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP


Marlins vs Cubs

The notable item here is the return of Jameson Taillon, who is back after opening the season on the IL with a back ailment. His first season with the Cubs wasn’t his best, as the veteran right-hander struggled mightily out of the gate before finding his footing later in the season.

Chicago is hoping that the late-season success is a better indicator of what Taillon can offer. After all, he was 14-5 with a 3.91 ERA with the Yankees in 2022 and 14-10 with a 3.20 mark with Pittsburgh in 2018 before injuries derailed things for a while.

Over his final five appearances last year (four starts), Taillon allowed just five earned runs in 27 innings, good for a 1.67 ERA.

Through his ups and downs, Taillon has often had issues in the first inning. He posted a woeful 6.21 ERA in both the first and second innings last year. Twelve of the 27 home runs he allowed all year came in the opening frame.

The Marlins aren’t knocking the cover off the ball or anything, but they have had some success early in games. They’re tied for fourth in the majors with 0.84 runs per first inning and only three teams have hit more first-inning homers, which – as we mentioned – can be a problem at times for Taillon.

Even if Taillon survives an inning in which he’s going to have to shake off some rust, the other half of the equation is no sure thing. A.J. Puk has lost all three of his starts as Miami tries to convert the career-long reliever into something else.

The 6-7 lefty simply can’t find the plate. He’s issued 14 walks in just 10⅔ innings (eight strikeouts) while opponents have compiled 12 hits. That’s good for a cartoonish WHIP of 2.438. Indeed, it’s been a disastrous opening for Puk, who was a pretty solid reliever for the Marlins last year.

The first inning has been a tad better than other stanzas, but not by much. Puk has issued four walks in his three first innings, with two runners coming across. The Cubs have been a middle-of-the-road first-inning offense, but they feast on southpaws (MLB-best .914 OPS).

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Diamondbacks vs Giants

These AL West rivals begin a big four-game set in San Francisco with both of them sitting under .500 and looking for a spark. It’ll be Ryne Nelson against Logan Webb on the mound.

Webb has been such a steady hand for San Francisco over the past few seasons, leading the majors in innings pitched in 2023 and finishing second in the Cy Young Award voting. He’s picked up where he left off, for the most part, by lasting at least six innings in three of his four starts – seven in each of the last two.

Through the solid start – which also includes one clunker at the Dodgers on April 2 – Webb has continued with a theme of dominating at home. He posted a 2.26 ERA in San Francisco last year, compared to 4.31 on the road, and worked seven innings of two-run ball in his lone Oracle Park outing in 2024.

Webb is not always at his best in the first inning and the Diamondbacks are perhaps the best first-inning offense in the game right now, so that counters the right-hander’s home dominance. If we need a tiebreaker while making picks for MLB action in San Fran, we can look to his history with Arizona, which is pretty good (5-3, 2.80 ERA in 10 starts).

The top three hitters in the Diamondbacks’ usual lineup are a combined 10-for-42 (.238) against Webb.

As for Nelson, he had a similar home/road thing last season, but it was flipped. The righty struggled mightily in Arizona (8.25 ERA) but was a very solid option in the sportsbook when pitching away from the desert (3.46).

Through it all, Nelson was a pretty good first-inning guy who would sometimes find problems in later innings. He’s yet to allow a first-inning run in three chances in 2024 and the Giants are tied for 20th in the majors in runs per first (0.38).



Questions Of The Day

Which other MLB matchups are worth watching on April 18?

It’s a light schedule, but we’re interested to see what Cleveland is capable of in the finale of its series in Boston, one night after Tanner Houck made the Guardians look silly.

What other first-inning trends stand out?

The Yankees have a funky thing going on. They’re hitting .143 in the first inning – last in the majors – while drawing 18 walks in that frame – most in the majors.

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