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MLB First Look: Big-Name Pitchers Look to Curb Runs

Three Former Cy Young Winners Take Mound on Tuesday

There were at least 10 runs scored in nine of the 12 games played on Monday and that included 15 runs being scored in the first inning. With some series continuing on Tuesday and others getting going, let’s take a look at some more first-inning scoring wagers when it comes time to make MLB predictions.

There are some big names set to take to the mound on Tuesday. That list includes Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Max Verlander of the New York Mets and Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians. There are also some unknown commodities around the starting pitchers. Michael Wacha made some MLB news when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning for the San Diego Padres.

MLB First Look: Big-Name Pitchers Look to Curb Runs
Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers | Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

There are some interesting new series beginning and some pitching matchups that deserve a closer look. So follow along and take some of our RIFI (Runs in First Inning) advice with you when you survey the MLB lines page.

Twins vs Dodgers

They could be saving the best for last with Clayton Kershaw going against Bailey Ober when the National League-leading Los Angeles Dodgers welcome the Minnesota Twins to town for a 10:10 p.m. ET game.

The Twins have shown some power in the first inning with nine home runs and .427 slugging percentage. However, they are hitting .200 as a team in the first inning. Max Kepler has three of those home runs. Keep in mind that he hasn’t played since Friday due to a leg injury.

There could be some hope for the Twins to score early since Kershaw has allowed five runs in the first innings in his first eight starts of the season. Minnesota’s Ober has surrendered two runs in the first inning in his first four starts of 2023.

The Dodgers have hit 13 home runs in the first inning, the most in baseball, with their .577 slugging percentage in the first inning ranking fourth in MLB.

Catcher Will Smith has four home runs in the first inning this season. He hit a two-run blast in the first inning of Monday’s wild game won by the Dodgers 9-8 in 12 innings on a bases-loaded walk. Max Muncy hit the first of his two home runs in the first inning.

Six of the 10 hits by Mookie Betts in the first inning this season have gone for extra bases.

When considering a RIFI wager on this one at the sportsbook, look for at least one of the pitches to leave the park in the first inning.

Braves vs Rangers

When making your MLB picks, keep in mind that first innings have been quite the adventure for 24-year-old lefty Jared Shuster.

In his first two starts this season, the projected Atlanta starter has allowed five hits, six walks and six runs scored.

The numbers are slightly better for Texas’ projected starter Dane Dunning with one hit and one run allowed in his first two starts. He has two walks so control issues could be a factor for both starters in this matchup.

Atlanta leads the majors with a .609 slugging percentage in the first inning thanks to a .314 batting average, 14 doubles and 12 home runs. Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. leads the majors with 18 first-inning hits – eight of those going for extra bases. He also has seven stolen bases in the first inning this season.

Texas is only hitting .231 in the first frame. The Rangers do have nine home runs, however. Nathaniel Lowe and Rookie of the Year candidate Josh Jung have each homered twice in the first inning this season.

Texas was shut out despite having 10 hits against the Braves on Monday as the Rangers were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Both Atlanta and Texas had hits in the first inning in the series opener but failed to score.

If you’re planning to make a bet online in this one, consider some early scoring.

Cubs vs Astros

There is an intriguing matchup of starting pitchers as the Cubs, sitting in third place in the National League Central Division, hit the road to face Houston, which is currently in second place in the American League West.

Cristian Javier is tied for second on the Astros with three wins and is second on the team with 54 strikeouts. Justin Steele is 6-0 with a 1.82 ERA for the Cubs. He is not as much of a strikeout pitcher as Javier with 39 in 49⅓ innings. He is coming off a game when he allowed more than two runs for the first time all season. Keep that in mind when looking at possible live betting options.

Steele has allowed six hits, two walks and hit a batter in the first inning in his first eight starts.

He has managed to pitch his way out of trouble with only one run allowed in the opening inning in those games.

Javier has given up two hits and one run with 12 strikeouts and three walks in the first inning in his eight starts.

The Cubs are batting .264 in the first inning. That is the good news. On the other side of the ledger, they have just one home run and six extra-base hits in the opening frame. That is tied with the Mets for the fewest in all of baseball.

The Astros are only slightly better with 12 extra-base hits in the first inning in the first 41 games of 2023.

This game is tied with the Phillies-Giants matchup for the lowest total (3½) through the first five innings.

This might be a game where the pitchers could get the upper hand in the early going and keep that in mind when you check in on the MLB spreads.

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