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YRFI / NRFI Best Bets: Yu Darvish Takes on Juan Soto, Yanks

A whole new set of series hits us Friday night, making for a whole new set of RIFI wagers to be made. Check out our latest MLB odds page and consider some of these selections.


YRFI / NRFI Best Bets: Yu Darvish Takes on Juan Soto, Yanks
Juan Soto #22 Of The New York Yankees / Sarah Stier / Getty Images North America / Getty Images Via Afp

Burnes vs. Flexen Key in Orioles-White Sox Clash

After getting swept earlier in the week for the first time in 107 regular-season series, the Orioles started this set off right with an 8-6 win on Thursday that featured a brutal call to end the game.

They’ll try to make it two in a row when they go up against Chris Flexen on Friday night.

Flexen has endured an up-and-down (mostly down) campaign so far while trying to rediscover the form that made him a standout hurler for the Mariners a few years ago. He’s given up 10 runs in just 8⅔ innings over his last two starts to send a once-respectable ERA soaring to 5.48.

The 29-year-old is one of many who can be had the second or third times through an order, but he shines early in games. He’s posted a 1.12 ERA in the first inning and a 2.25 mark in the second, limiting opponents to a .220 average in that span, including 13 strikeouts against one walk.

The Orioles, meanwhile, continue a rather remarkable run of futility in the first inning on the road, where they’ve scored now just 4.76% of the time. Put another way, they’ve scored in the first inning one time in their 21 roadies, that coming with a two-out rally at Cincinnati on May 5.

It’s a somewhat bizarre trend for the team that leads the majors in slugging. But we’ll keep leaning into it until things turn around, and Flexen has the first-inning chops to keep it going.

Baltimore throws Corbin Burnes at the White Sox in this one. He has posted five straight quality starts and enters with an impressive 2.41 ERA. Home runs have been an issue in the first inning for Burnes (he’s allowed four of them), but the White Sox are last in the majors in that category.

First Inning to Score: NO


Yankees vs. Padres: Juan Soto Returns to San Diego

Juan Soto’s return to Petco Park is the main storyline here, but those of us placing a bet online don’t care about the pomp, circumstance or whatever else materializes. We just need to know who’s on the mound and what they’ll be facing.

Yu Darvish will be taking on the vaunted New York attack to start this one off. The 37-year-old has been superb early in 2024 and enters Friday with the longest scoreless streak (25 innings) in MLB history by a Japanese-born player.

That trend will be challenged by a Yankees squad that leads the majors in home runs and OPS. And with Soto doing his thing in the two-hole, they’ve become a first-inning force. However, Darvish has been great about keeping the ball in the park (two home runs allowed) and New York does the bulk of its first-inning damage at home; the Bombers are just 14th in scoring percentage in that stanza on the road at 26.92.

The Padres have sort of the opposite thing going on. They’re a rather formidable first-inning attack on the road but score in that frame just 20% of the time at home – tied for 21st in the majors.

Carlos Rodon will try to keep that trend alive. He’s been pretty consistent inning-to-inning in what has been a strong bounceback campaign and the first is no exception. Opponents are hitting .237 with a .293 on-base percentage against the lefty in that inning.

Rodon’s only prior start at Petco in 2022 resulted in a complete-game three-hitter with 12 strikeouts. Current Padres are hitting a combined 9-for-60 against him. A lot of numbers in his favor here, and with Darvish on the other end it’s a sure-fire no-RIFI bet online.

First Inning to Score: NO


Marlins vs. Diamondbacks: Garrett vs. Gallen

The defending NL-champion Diamondbacks have been slow out of the gate but have to feel good about themselves after securing a series win in Dodger Stadium to start the week. They have an opportunity here to keep things going against the lowly Marlins and a struggling pitcher.

That man is Braxton Garrett, who has been knocked around in his first two starts since coming off the injured list earlier this month. He’s given up 11 runs in 9⅔ innings, with five of the runs coming in the first inning.

Garrett broke out with a strong 2023 campaign and he should find that form again, but this will be a tough spot for any kind of turnaround. Arizona still has the best first-inning OPS in the National League (.923) and it scores in the first inning 40% of the time at Chase Field.

Zac Gallen is a more sure thing than Garrett right now. He enters with a 3.02 ERA and owns a 1.52 mark at home. However, the first inning has been his worst frame among the first six (4.00 ERA) and the Marlins strangely excel in this one department – they’re second in the majors in runs per first inning on the road (0.68).

First Inning to Score: YES

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Questions of the Day

What other MLB matchups are worth exploring at the sportsbook?

See what you can find on the Royals at Rays, as those are two teams headed in opposite directions. If momentum means anything to you, side with Kansas City here.

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