There’s a pretty solid group of rookie pitchers in the majors this year, with five of them sporting at least 10 wins and a couple even flirting with ERA titles. With a light night in the majors (there are several afternoon affairs), we’ll highlight four such rookies in our two first-inning scoring selections. These games are in warm, sunny climes but make sure you take a look at the MLB weather today prior to making a pick.
Tigers vs Dodgers
There’s not too much left for Los Angeles to do other than perhaps finish with the best MLB record, although they have a gap to catch Atlanta in that quest. The Dodgers have won five in a row, however, to keep the heat on the Braves and get one more potential gimme against the Tigers.
Rookie Bobby Miller carries a 10-3 record into this start for LA. As the 24-year-old’s innings rise, he’s been a tad more hittable of late, posting a 4.78 ERA over his last five starts. Consider that he’s pitched a career-high 121⅔ innings this year between the minors and majors, so a late slump is a distinct possibility.
Miller has a 3.79 ERA in the first inning, so he can be had from time to time there. He’s also been more vulnerable at home (4.73 ERA) and in interleague play (5.08). None of these numbers are dreadful, but put them all together and you have a recipe for some early damage.
The Tigers have been tamed in Dodger Stadium, but they still have produced a healthy 12 home runs and 31 walks over their last eight games.
Fellow rookie Reese Olson is also getting up there in innings pitched, having worked 128⅔ at two stops this year. It hasn’t seemed to bother him of late, as the Georgia native is getting great results in September.
That said, Olson struggles out of the gate with a 5.62 ERA in the first inning and he hasn’t faced anyone like the Dodgers, who lead the majors in first-inning scoring percentage (40.7).
If you’re staring at the MLB odds, consider if a yes-RIFI event makes sense with this matchup.
First Inning to Score: YES
Mets vs Marlins
For the third straight day, we’re going to Miami for this NL East clash. The series has offered a nice combination of pitchers pitching well and offenses that just don’t do a lot in the first inning.
Marlins rookie Eury Perez is 0-1 with a 5.02 ERA in three starts this month. However, all three were on the road against pretty solid offenses, and he still showed his good stuff his last time out with seven strikeouts and no walks in 4⅔ innings at Milwaukee.
Perez has been exceptional at home this year, going 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA in eight starts. He should get back to his dominant ways when he takes the mound at loan Depot Park for the first time since August 26.
The 6-foot-8 right-hander has let eight runs come across in the first inning in his 18 starts, but there’s been some bad luck. Opponents are batting just .200 and Perez has recorded 25 strikeouts against only four walks in the frame.
The Mets, who score an MLB-worst 18.4% of the time in the first inning on the road, will be contending with Perez for the first time. It stands to reason that they’ll need a turn through the order to figure out the rookie.
New York counters with Kodai Senga, who is coming off six scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in a win over Arizona. He’s also pitched well against Seattle and Minnesota this month, so he’s getting used to shutting down playoff contenders.
Senga’s 2.95 ERA is fifth in the majors among qualified candidates. That figure sat at 1.59 after his first two outings in the big leagues, both against Miami back in April. The 30-year-old is prone to some early control problems, but that’s not the Marlins’ strength at the plate; they rank 27th in the majors in bases on balls.
Expect these two talented arms to keep this one scoreless early on and adjust your MLB bet to account for that.
First Inning to Score: NO