While FastMoneyLabs ($FML) is an electrifying brand — it is not a guarantee of results. In fact, there’s no such thing as Fast Money. It’s like the Santa Claus of gambling.
That said — if there were such thing as Fast Money, I’d wager there’s a good chance it would involve betting MLB 1st innings. When you’re right, it’s as close to Fast Money as it gets.
When you’re wrong, it stings for a second, sure — but at least you don’t have to stay up till 1AM local time to watch it crumble, right? (not-so-subtle jab at the Calgary Flames last night).
Yes or No Run 1st Inning? That is the Question.
Betting MLB 1st innings is as simple as Yes or No? That really is the question. Will there be a run scored in the 1st inning?
The past doesn’t always predict future results, but last year the answer was YES more often than not — at least for the full season. The timing and path it took to get there, though, was somewhat complicated.
In the first month of the season, for example, we got clean sheets more often than not — a trend that’s held true for at least 3 straight years now, as shown below:
Betting NO Runs in the First Inning (NRFI) is 28-15 (65.1%) on Opening Day since 2019. It makes logical sense, since teams throw their best pitchers at the hill for Opening Day.
Now the stage is set. Here’s my best 1st inning bet for the Opening Day slate!
San Diego Padres @ Arizona Diamondbacks (9:40PM ET)
I wanted action on the earlier games, but they’ve got some CRAZY wind forecasts. 15+ MPH gusts don’t pair well with First Inning bets. That is, unless you’re betting YES Run First Inning (YRFI), which I’m not eager to do based on the Opening Day stats above.
To eliminate the wind factor, I’m targeting a game to be played in a Dome. Like wind, ballpark factors are important to consider when handicapping 1st inning bets. When it comes to Arizona, those factors couldn’t be more favorable for NRFI bettors.
Last year, NRFI was 49-32 (60.5%) in games played at Chase Field. I believe this reflects the fact they’ve got one of the deepest outfield fences in MLB, which lowers the risk of Home Runs — the #1 NRFI killer (besides leadoff walks).
Having a favorable ballpark is nice, but the key to cashing 1st inning bets is finding pitchers you can trust and playing them in the right matchups.
Here’s my breakdown of today’s matchup between San Diego’s Ace pitcher, Yu Darvish, and Arizona’s ageless veteran, Madison Bumgarner:
Bumgarner sticks out as the risk. His 15-11 NRFI record last year (earned runs basis) is less than stellar, but I like that he was 2-1 keeping it clean vs. San Diego. At home, he was 1-0 vs. them. He was also the Opening Day starter last year vs. the Padres and pitched a perfect 1/2/3 first inning.
Normally I’m hesitant to back NRFIs against the San Diego Padres (SDP), who pack a potent 1-2 punch with Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis at the top of their lineup. Unfortunately the latter, Tatis, is out with a broken wrist to start the season.
Not to oversimplify this bet, but with Tatis out, I think it boils down to Manny Machado. Can we survive his At Bat, or will he take Bumgarner deep to break our hearts?
At this time, it is worth noting that Bumgarner is a Lefty, and Machado historically struggles vs. Left Handed Pitchers (LHP).
In 134 at bats vs. LHP last year, the power hitter only knocked 5 home runs (3.7% of ABs) compared to 23 home runs vs. RHPs (5.3% of ABs).
On a batting average basis, he only hit 0.246 vs. LHPs vs. 0.288 against RHPs.
Machado’s trend vs. LHPs has largely held true in his career vs. Bumgarner.
In 33 at bats, he only has 7 hits (0.212 AVG).
3 of those 7 hits were home runs, which is a little scary, but I’m willing to hold my nose and bet he won’t knock one tonight, as he tends to be a slow starter (only 3 HRs in April last year, for example).
If we can survive Machado and get through the 1st half of the inning, I like our chances to cash the ticket with Yu Darvish on the hill for SDP.
Arizona’s lineup was weak last year, scoring in only 16% of their 1st innings (worst in MLB), and they didn’t do much upgrading in the offseason.
If one hitter has potential to kill this bet from Arizona, it’s Ketel Marte (0.318 AVG, 14 HRs, 50 RBI). He’s a bonafide stud; just not in the 1st inning.
Last year, he hit just 0.231 in the 1st frame while striking out 20 times, easily his 2nd worst inning by the numbers besides the 9th.
All things considered, I feel the stars are aligned to bet NO run first inning in this one!
It’s an Opening Day trend that’s persisted for at least 3 years.
Both pitchers were a combined 6-2 NRFI (75%) in this matchup last year.
NRFI hit at 60.5% on the year last year at Chase Field.
If weather weren’t a factor, I’d prefer other spots over this, but I don’t mind it for what it is at the price. In fact, I actually quite like it.
Be prepared for heartbreak, which does occasionally happen with these bets; but get excited to take it to the bank in case we’re right, because when these hit, it’s as close to Fast Money as you can get, and it’s a real thrill.
Now go call out sick from work, get your popcorn ready, good luck today and enjoy!