As the baseball world monitors one remaining division race, some Wild Card drama in both leagues, and the Aaron Judge saga, it’s time for our latest look at some first-inning scoring wagers.
Yankees vs Blue Jays
Just as we’ve gone to the Jose Quintana well over and over in search of a scoreless first, we’re getting into the habit of picking on Gerrit Cole for the opposite result. And the star right-hander has delivered for those betting online in favor of an early run, as the home run ball remains a big issue for him.
Cole’s first-inning ERA has risen to 4.94 and he’s given up 10 of his American League-leading 31 home runs in that frame. Kolten Wong took him deep in the first two turns ago in Milwaukee and Tommy Pham got him at home in the opening frame against Boston his last time out.
Toronto Blue Jays have no shortage of big bats, of course. George Springer went yard in the first inning against the Yankees on Tuesday. Springer, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alejandro Kirk – the first four hitters in Toronto’s lineup of late – are a combined 22-for-71 (.310) with four home runs against Cole.
After clinching the AL East on Tuesday, New York may rest some of their regulars, perhaps even Aaron Judge, who remains stuck on 60 home runs for more than a week. That might not impact things as it relates to Mitch White, who gets the start for the Blue Jays.
White is 0-4 with a 7.39 ERA in eight games (seven starts) since joining Toronto. His first-inning ERA is a much better 4.24, but he gave up two in the first at Tampa Bay his last time out. Additionally, the ex-Dodger has given up 17 runs in his 20⅓ innings pitching at the Rogers Centre.
It feels like someone is putting up an early tally here. Consider that recommendation when surveying the MLB odds.
First Inning to Score: YES
Cardinals vs Brewers
Death, taxes and Jose Quintana are featured in our first-inning bets piece. Those are the constants, although this might be our last chance to get in on the Quintana Express before the regular season ends.
The one-time All-Star is coming off back-to-back scoreless outings, which have lowered his ERA since being traded to St. Louis to 2.14. That first-inning ERA has been pushed down to 1.50, with opponents sporting a rather paltry .504 OPS.
Milwaukee Brewers present a challenge. They rank fifth in the majors in first-inning scoring percentage at home (37.0) and they scored one of the five runs Quintana has allowed in the opening stanza on April 28, when Andrew McCutchen took him deep. But we still like the chances for the lefty, who has let up only two runs in 25⅓ innings this month.
Brandon Woodruff will try to give the Brewers a clutch start as they enter the day’s action 1½ games out of a wild-card spot. It took some time, but he’s definitely found his groove, lowering his ERA nearly a run since mid-July.
The Mississippi State product has been remarkably consistent to open games, posting a 2.52 ERA in the first, second and third innings. He’s also been on point at home, where his record is 7-0 and his ERA stands at 2.16.
That includes five scoreless innings versus St. Louis at home early in the season. When placing your MLB picks at the sportsbook, consider the many trends here that lean toward a scoreless first.
First Inning to Score: NO
Braves vs Nationals
Now tied for first in the NL East, Atlanta would love a clutch start from Jake Odorizzi on Wednesday in Washington. Unfortunately, he hasn’t provided many since coming over from Houston at the trade deadline.
The veteran right-hander has a 5.97 ERA and opponents are batting .310 against him in his eight starts with the Braves. He managed a scoreless first at Philadelphia on Friday but was tagged for eight runs over the next three frames.
Odorizzi’s first-inning ERA sits at 5.95. The Nationals aren’t scoring much these days as they careen toward a last-place finish, but they have managed the first-inning tally in four of the last five games.
Nobody has given up more home runs than Washington righty Josiah Gray, and it’s not particularly close. Eleven of his MLB-leading 37 home runs allowed – which is tied for the franchise record – have come in the first inning, where his ERA sits at 7.33.
Atlanta Braves have been a middle-of-the-pack first-inning offense most of the year, but they love to go deep early. They rank third in the majors – first in the NL – with 31 home runs in the opening stanza.
Take a glance at the MLB lines and see if you can squeeze in a YRFI (Yes Runs First Inning) bet for this series finale in Washington.
First Inning to Score: YES