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NRFI and YRFI Best Bets: Suarez, Gray Up Against Top-Notch Early Offenses

We were 3-0 on Friday and 3-0 on Monday with our RIFI picks. Some might say we’re due for an off night, but we’re pretty confident that the following selections will help you out at the BetUS sportsbook.


NRFI and YRFI Best Bets: Suarez, Gray Up Against Top-Notch Early Offenses
Ranger Suarez #55 of the Philadelphia Phillies | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images/AFP

Rangers at Phillies: Ranger vs the Rangers

Occasionally with your MLB picks it’s wise to go against the grain, expect the unexpected. You’ll often be laughing at others who went the conventional route and didn’t cash in. All this could come into play in this matchup between guys with miniscule ERAs.

Ranger Suarez is on a Cy Young Award-worthy path, entering this one with an 8-0 mark and a 1.37 ERA – trailing only Shoto Imanaga. It would seem to be a no-brainer NRFI pick, but we looked a bit deeper before pushing that through.

Suarez gave up a first-inning run his last time out, albeit an unearned one. He’s let up three runs overall in his nine first innings. That’s still very good, but relative to his utter dominance in other portions of the game it’s nothing special.

The 28-year-old from Venezuela has been ever-so-slightly worse at home than on the road, giving up eight of his 11 runs overall at Citizens Bank Park. And he’ll be up against a Rangers offense that ranks first in the AL in first-inning scoring percentage on the road (43.48). Nothing is certain here.

Jon Gray gets the ball in the bottom half. His ERA (2.08) isn’t much worse than Suarez’s and it’s an even better 1.30 if you toss out his first start of the season against the Cubs. However, Gray’s one problem frame has been the first inning, where he’s allowed six of his 12 runs overall.

Gray will need to contend with Bryce Harper, who is batting .316 with two home runs against the righty and has even found time to play matchmaker in Philly.

Nobody scores more in the first inning than the Phillies with 0.90 runs per game in that stanza. That’s an even beefier 1.07 at home, which puts the odds squarely in their favor against a guy who’s had some early shakiness in his otherwise very good starts.

First Inning to Score: YES


Mariners at Yankees: Clarke Bars M’s

We went to the Bronx on Monday and correctly nailed some first-inning runs for the Yankees, who seem to be doing that with regularity of late. They lead the AL in runs per first at home (0.96), making for an immediate challenge for Bryan Woo.

After opening the season on the injured list, Woo has been pretty clean in two starts, albeit one of which he left early because of a forearm issue. The only run he’s allowed in 9⅔ innings so far came on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning against Kansas City on Wednesday.

Woo stormed out of Double-A last year and had some early growing pains before figuring things out. Four of his final six starts in 2023 were of the scoreless variety and he also blanked the Yanks in New York over 5⅓ innings earlier in the year.

This is all to say that Woo may have what it takes to get in a few shutdown innings, perhaps defying the MLB odds that will likely lean in favor of the big bad Bombers.

Before Woo even gets that opportunity, Clarke Schmidt will attempt to keep alive his scoreless run, currently at 15⅔ innings over two-plus starts. He has a solid 2.00 ERA in the first and is up against a Seattle club that hits only .192 in that frame.

First Inning to Score: NO

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White Sox at Blue Jays: What Do You Say, Yusei?

Yusei Kikuchi came out of his first start of the year with a 6.23 ERA (three earned runs in 4⅓ innings). He dropped that figure below 3.00 with 5⅓ scoreless frames in his next start and it’s stayed there ever since.

The lefty only lasted 4⅓ again at Baltimore on Wednesday but tied his season high with nine strikeouts and the only damage against him was on a solo homer. Occasionally, the home run ball can be an issue for Kikuchi, but he’s mostly kept the ball in the park this year and it’s led to a very good start to the season.

The White Sox are last in the majors in home runs anyway, so even if Kikuchi uncorks a few that some sluggers would take deep this is a team that probably won’t hurt him. The same goes for the first inning, where he’s held opponents to a .219 average.

Chicago is 27th in the majors in first-inning scoring percentage (18.75) after going quietly in the opening frame during Monday’s 9-3 loss at Toronto. Kikuchi should carve them up early.

The Blue Jays’ struggling lineup showed signs of awakening in the series opener, rapping out 12 hits – four from Bo Bichette. Still, they went scoreless in the first and are actually one spot behind Chicago on that first-inning scoring percentage list, ranking 28th at 17.39.

Toronto will be getting its first real look at Garrett Crochet, whose only prior experience versus the Jays came in two innings of relief three years ago. The tall southpaw has been converted into a starter this year and it’s become one of the bright spots for the last-place White Sox.

Crochet has spun 11 scoreless innings over his last two starts while striking out 17. He owns 70 punchouts against only 12 walks in 51⅔ innings overall, a mark of truly great stuff that should overwhelm the Jays for a turn or two through the lineup.

The former first-round pick out of Tennessee has a 2.70 ERA in the first inning, again sporting a sparkling strikeout-to-walk ratio of 16 to one.

First Inning to Score: NO

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Question Of The Day

What are some quirky first-inning trends?

Revisiting an item we noted several weeks ago, we still see the Orioles with some wildly disparate first-inning numbers. They’ve pushed a run across in the first only 5.56% of the time on the road (far and away the lowest figure in the majors) while doing so 37.04% of the time at home – ninth overall.

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