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NRFI and YRFI Best Bets: Montgomery Needs a Turnaround for Diamondbacks

Tuesdays are great nights for some MLB picks. It’s almost always loaded with 15 night games, making for a flurry of activity on and off the field. We have isolated three RIFI selections for you to choose from. As always, we’ll try to make a few calls on those borderline games that are hard to figure.


NRFI and YRFI Best Bets: Montgomery Needs a Turnaround for Diamondbacks
Jordan Montgomery #52 of the Arizona Diamondbacks - Norm Hall/Getty Images

Angels at Diamondbacks: Airless Jordan

The Arizona Diamondbacks have won six of nine as they try to dig out of a hole in the NL West. They have an opportunity to pile up a few more victories this week during a six-game homestand against two last-place teams – the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox.

Jordan Montgomery will try to turn around a miserable stretch when he starts this opener against the Angels. He’s given up 14 runs in only six innings over his last two starts as his ERA has soared to 6.80.

Things have been even worse at home for the big left-hander, who is 1-2 with an 8.46 mark in five starts at Chase Field this year. Finally, opponents have compiled 22 runs in 26 innings among frames 1-3, so he’s clearly not starting off on the right foot.

Los Angeles isn’t any kind of offensive force, but neither are San Francisco or the Mets, the two teams that beat up Montgomery recently. Until he figures some things out, going against him at the BetUS sportsbook is a wise choice.

There’s also a good shot at some offense in the bottom half, when Jose Suarez makes his first start of the year. The Venezuelan, who made 58 starts for the Angels over the years, has compiled a 6.54 ERA in 16 games out of the bullpen but is getting a shot to regain a spot in the rotation after Reid Detmers was demoted.

Suarez hasn’t thrown in the first inning this year but has a 5.12 ERA in that frame during those aforementioned 58 starts. Also, current Diamondbacks hitters are 10-for-28 (.357) with three homers against the lefty.

Although it has tailed off just a bit, Arizona still ranks first in the NL in first-inning OPS (.897). This has early runs written all over it.



Pirates at Cardinals: Skenes in St. Louis

We nailed a Paul Skenes pick a few days ago and figured we’d jump back on the phenom for his first visit to St. Louis.

Skenes did just enough to get the win in a matchup with the mighty Dodgers his last time out, although he was taken deep twice in five innings. For our purposes, we’re mostly concerned with what he did in the first frame, and it was magnificent; Skenes fanned Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani before getting Freddie Freeman to fly out to right.

That gave the 22-year-old five scoreless firsts in his five MLB starts. Opponents are 1-for-15 with a whopping 10 strikeouts against Skenes in the opening inning. This dominant trend should continue against a Cardinals unit that ranks 24th in first-inning scoring percentage (21.88).

Before Skenes gets to the mound we’ll see what Miles Mikolas can do against the Pirates. The veteran righty has some ugly numbers overall but he’s been just fine over the past month, posting four quality starts in his last five outings.

The two-time All-Star has a 4.85 ERA in the first inning but hasn’t allowed a run there over his last four starts. Opponents’ .726 OPS in the first is his lowest among the first five innings of a game.

Pittsburgh ranks near the bottom in most first-inning offensive categories and should be an easy lineup to navigate early.



Athletics at Padres: Sears Set to Silence Padres

Here are a couple of teams settling into some familiar spots. The Athletics have slid into last place in the AL West. The Padres are … well, they’re looking up at the Dodgers.

This is an opportunity for second-place San Diego to stay within shouting distance of L.A. in the division race with Oakland in town. Randy Vasquez is on the bump for the Padres, coming off his longest start of the season after working 6⅔ innings in a quality start against Arizona.

Vasquez’s numbers aren’t pretty, but he’s been a bit better at home and has dropped his ERA nearly a run over the last three outings. He’s catching plenty of the plate in the first inning, with opponents hitting .400 but with no walks and six strikeouts. It’s just a matter of location.

The 25-year-old was excellent in the first last year with the Angels and will find that form soon. The A’s and their tiny .501 OPS in the first inning should help him get there.

JP Sears gets the assignment for Oakland, losers of three straight. He’s been one of their bright spots, working at least six innings in each of his last three outings while posting a 2.84 ERA.

Sears is one of those guys that opponents need a second turn through the lineup before solving anything. He’s held foes to a .177 average in the first three frames, but that number jumps to .262 in innings 4-6.

The Padres present challenges in the first inning, to be sure. But so much of their success in that department has been on the road, where they lead the majors in first-inning scoring percentage (44.12). That number dips to 22.22 – 22nd in the majors – at home.

Sears has already spun some gems at Yankee Stadium and at Texas and he’s controlled the Astros on two occasions. He’ll be just fine until the middle innings at Petco.



Questions Of The Day

Are there any other MLB picks worth taking a shot at on Tuesday night?

If you like to ride out particular trends until they die, then jump on Bryan Woo’s outing at home against the lowly White Sox. Woo has spun 12 scoreless innings over his last two starts and carries a miniscule 1.07 ERA into this one.

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