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Big Names Struggling? Look for Value in First Inning Bets Today

We’re still several days/weeks away from really knowing which early-season trends are legit and which are just an indication of a tiny sample size. It makes some of these RIFI (Runs in First Inning) selections a bit tricky, so we’ll continue to rely on some 2023 numbers as well.

Below are three of what we think are the best MLB bet picks today.

Big Names Struggling? Look for Value in First Inning Bets Today
Louie Varland #37 of the Minnesota Twins | David Berding/Getty Images/AFP

Twins vs Orioles

Keeping in mind the aforementioned tiny sample size, we still can’t ignore the bloated figures that Louie Varland and Cole Irvin carry into this matchup in Baltimore. Together they’ve given up 18 runs in 19 total innings on the season.

Certainly, that will go down, but when you’re looking for a place to make some MLB picks sometimes you try for the low-hanging fruit. Varland has surrendered 13 hits and five walks in his nine frames so far, and while there hasn’t been any damage in the first inning it was a trouble spot last year.

The 26-year-old had a 6.30 first-inning ERA in 2023, allowing a healthy .915 OPS to opposing batters. The Orioles have been a pretty average first-inning offense so far but scored a single run in each of their first three frames on Sunday. They’ll come out swinging against a guy that’s been quite hittable.

As for Irvin, he let opponents compile a .298 first-inning average last year and has been on par with Varland early in 2024, giving up 14 hits and five walks in his 10 frames overall. Minnesota’s offense leaves something to be desired with Royce Lewis out and a host of guys under the Mendoza line, but Irvin might give them an opening.

First Inning to Score: YES


Reds vs Mariners

It’s been a rocky opening for George Kirby after his outstanding 2023 season in Seattle. The right-hander got off to a solid start by blanking the Red Sox in his season debut before giving up 13 runs in 7⅔ innings over his last two starts.

When making a bet on MLB action this early, we have to sometimes go with our gut. Those two outings will most likely be an aberration for the talented Mariner, and we expect him to turn a corner (or begin to) with a better start on Monday.

The Reds can swing the bat, but they’ve been very slow out of the gate in most games. They have just two first-inning runs in 15 games overall and will be going up against a starter who held opponents to a .198 average in the opening frame last year (a still solid .231 this year despite his overall woes).

On the other end, we see Frankie Montas, who has been very good early in his Cincinnati career. Included in his solid three starts is a string of scoreless first innings (and second innings, for that matter).

Montas owns a 2.72 ERA in his career vs Seattle, a 2.05 mark in five career outings at T-Mobile Park, and will be facing a Mariners lineup that has two first-inning runs in 16 games overall.

First Inning to Score: NO


Cardinals vs Athletics

If the Athletics can hover around that .500 mark for a little while longer, they’ll gain some love coast-to-coast as the woebegone, transient franchise ticketed for a minor league park next season but still playing their hearts out.

The ragtag collection in Oakland includes veteran Ross Stripling, with his third team in the last three seasons. He’s been a bit shaky out of the gate but did have seven innings of one-run ball in his last home start.

That left Stripling with a 3.12 ERA in his career in Oakland (just three starts, though). He’ll be facing a Cardinals lineup that’s betting .164 in the first inning – 28th in the majors – with big guns Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado struggling. This seems like a good spot for Stripling, a 10-4 pitcher for Toronto just two seasons ago, to get off on the right foot.

His counterpart is Sonny Gray, the former Athletic who spun five scoreless in his St. Louis debut against Philadelphia last Tuesday. He’ll be aiming for career win No. 100 against the pesky Athletics, who while pesky and perhaps overachieving are still 29th in the majors in runs scored.

Including last year and his 2024 debut, Gray has yielded three first-inning runs in his last 34 starts. We expect all of these trends to play out in easy fashion, giving you a great bet online to make at the sportsbook.

First Inning to Score: NO



Questions of the Day

Which other MLB matchups are worth watching on April 15?

We love seeing what happens at Fenway Park in the annual Patriot’s Day Game starting at 11:10 a.m. ET. Later on, we’ll be eyeing the opener of the Braves-Astros series in Houston.

What else stands out on the MLB news pages?

Jackson Holliday finally got his first hit for the Orioles on Sunday, ending an 0-for-13 (with nine strikeouts) start to what should be a solid MLB career.


The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.

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