Monday’s schedule in the majors feels like the calm before the storm. Only four games are on it, but all four will impact the MLB playoff picture in some fashion. We’ll take two of them for some first-inning scoring bets.
Astros vs Mariners
This critical three-game series is dripping with drama. Both Houston and Seattle have hit a rut, allowing Texas to take control in the AL West and leaving the Astros and Mariners as two of three teams fighting for two Wild Card spots.
Justin Verlander figures to get two more starts to try to get his team into the dance, including this one opposite Luis Castillo for the Mariners. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for Verlander since he rejoined the Astros, and he has a 5.19 ERA in four September starts.
Verlander gave up seven home runs in his first three starts this month. He kept the ball in the park his last time out but still allowed eight hits for the third time in September.
First innings have been a big issue all year for the 40-year-old. He owns a 6.48 ERA in the opening frame, allowing nine of his 18 home runs. J.P. Crawford, Julio Rodriguez and Teoscar Hernandez – a trio Verlander most likely faces in the first inning – are a combined 17-for-55 (.309) with a pair of home runs against him. Ty France, who often hits near the top of the order, is 10-for-23 with a homer.
The Mariners, who are sixth in the majors in first-inning batting average (.269), offer up an immediate challenge for the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
Castillo has been much more efficient in the first inning. He has a 2.90 ERA in that stanza while limiting opponents to a .191 average. The three-time All-Star has also been very good at home, so there’s a good chance for a solid start against the slumping Astros. Check out the MLB player props page and see if there’s something for Castillo in there.
As for the first inning, Houston always presents a tough matchup, even when several hitters are cold. Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker have a combined three home runs in 18 at-bats against Castillo. There’s at least a chance someone gets into one. If not, Verlander should have his share of early woes.
MLB First Inning to Score: YES
Padres vs Giants
San Diego has made a nice charge to stay relevant, posting the best record in MLB action (well, tied with Kansas City) over the last 12 days. Alas, time has just about run out.
There are some consolation prizes for one of the game’s biggest disappointments. One might be getting to .500, and another is helping Blake Snell seal up a very unique Cy Young Award.
Snell, who leads the majors in ERA with a 2.33 mark, goes for win No. 15 in this one. He’s allowed only two runs in 32 innings over his last five starts, so he’s finishing exceptionally strong. One of those outings was a six-inning scoreless gem against San Francisco, whom he also blanked over six innings earlier in the season.
The 30-year-old left-hander has been solid frame-to-frame so there are no first-inning issues to worry about here. The Giants are hitting .163 during their current 1-5 stretch. Their white flag is up and Snell should have an easy time.
Logan Webb will face a more formidable challenge in trying to get past the top of the San Diego order in the first. The Padres have risen to fifth in the majors in first-inning scoring percentage (36.5) and they put together 18 hits in Sunday’s 12-2 rout of the Cardinals.
Webb amazingly hasn’t faced the Padres in over a year, but he had a 0.83 ERA in three starts against them last year. He’s been superb at home this year (2.37). Only four of the 14 first-inning runs he’s allowed have come in San Francisco.
Some of the best MLB prop bets today involve Snell and Webb. Take a look inside our sportsbook to find one that works, and consider a no-RIFI selection for this game.
MLB First Inning to Score: NO