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Today’s YRFI/NRFI Plays: Surging Mets Take Aim at Jon Gray, Rangers

We’re in the final couple of days of actual spring, although it feels like full-blast summer already in many places. As the country bakes this week and we shift toward a new season on the calendar, we’ll try to stay hot with our RIFI MLB picks. Here are a couple of offerings for a light Monday night in the majors!


Today’s YRFI/NRFI Plays: Surging Mets Take Aim at Jon Gray, Rangers
Sean Manaea #59 of the New York Mets | Luke Hales/Getty Images/AFP

Mets vs Rangers: New York’s Bats Big in Texas

And just like that, the New York Mets are rolling. They probably won’t ever get close to contention in the NL East race, but they are now in a massive pack of nine NL teams within four games of .500.

Much of the Mets’ surge has been on the backs of their stars atop the order. Francisco Lindor has three homers and more walks (six) than strikeouts (five) during the team’s 8-2 run. Brandon Nimmo is hitting .326 in that same span. J.D. Martinez is at .310 with three homers in those 10 games. And Pete Alonso slugged a three-run homer in the first inning during Sunday’s 11-6 win over San Diego and he seemed ready for the trip to Arlington.

Those are the guys Jon Gray will have on his mind to open up this series. Gray has been fantastic in 2024, pulling into this one with a 2.17 ERA, but he’s thrown just 5⅓ innings in the past four weeks and the first has been a rocky one throughout.

Gray has let up seven earned runs in his 11 first innings (5.73 ERA), allowing two of his three home runs in that frame. It’s also been a problem inning throughout his career (5.53 ERA). And then there’s this: of the 13 hits Gray has allowed to current Mets hitters, six of them have been homers.

New York has vaulted all the way up to fourth in the majors in first-inning scoring percentage on the road (40.0). This will be an immediate challenge for the right-hander.

If Gray somehow survives, there’s still an uncertain bottom of the first with David Peterson making his fourth start of the year. There isn’t much to go by with first-inning numbers this year, but Peterson had all sorts of control issues in the opening frame last year (14 walks, two hit batters in 21 innings).

Texas averages 0.59 runs per first overall. That’s good for fifth in the majors and another reason why you can take an early run here at the sportsbook.

First Inning to Score: YES

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Giants vs Cubs: A Jordan in Chicago

Along with the Mets, here are two more of those nine NL teams floating at or just below .500 as we approach the midpoint of the season.

The Cubs enter this three-game set with some desperation setting in. They have lost nine of their last 10 series in what’s been a 10-21 slide, with the only series victory in that span against the lowly White Sox at home.

They’ll try to strike first in this one behind Javier Assad. Like his teammates, Assad is muddling through a rough patch, going 0-2 with a 5.33 ERA over his last five starts. However, he’s remained mostly clean out of the gate in his starts and carries a 1.93 first-inning ERA into this one.

The 26-year-old has also enjoyed his time at Wrigley Field this year, allowing just six earned runs in his six starts at “The Friendly Confines.

Jordan Hicks gets the nod for the Giants as he looks to continue a strong first season as a starter. He’s posted a 3.01 ERA through his first 14 outings while holding opponents to a .654 OPS.

Those numbers are even better for MLB betting in the first inning (2.57, .618). Hicks, who toiled for a few years with the rival Cardinals, has also dominated the Cubs in the past, holding them to a .134 average in 18 matchups (all in relief).

We can’t expect either starter to go very deep in this one but we do see a good chance for some first-inning zeroes.

First Inning to Score: NO



Odds and information are accurate at the time of writing. Please check with official sources for the latest updates before placing any bets.


Question of the Day

Any big MLB news to factor in before placing some long-term bets?

The Mookie Betts injury is a massive blow to the Dodgers, who open a four-game set at Coors Field on Monday.


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