It’s been 10+ years – 3,661 days, to be exact – since the National League last triumphed at an All-Star Game. That said – this year’s roster is oozing with talent, and they have home-field advantage. Can we trust them to flip the script? I personally do, but it’s not my best bet. For that, I’m targeting one of our favorite markets – the 1st inning – and placing a bold bet.
@FastMoneyLabs’ MLB All-Star Game 1st Inning Pick
1st Inning Preview & Pick
If you thought @FastMoneyLabs would leave you without a 1st Inning Preview for tonight – think again! See my in-depth breakdown of tonight’s matchup:
Betting No Run First Inning (NRFI) is 4-1 in the last 5 All-Star Games (ASG). It’s counterintuitive when you look at the power packed into each lineup, but elite pitching tends to dominate – at least in the last 5 years. If we extend the sample to the Last 10 ASG, it paints a slightly different picture though, as NRFI only cashed in 5 of the last 10 (50%). Which begs the question, what will happen tonight? To answer, let’s break down the pitching matchup.
Kicking things off for the National League tonight will be Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers’ All-Time Strikeout Leader and future Hall of Famer missed some time this year but has been dominant enough to earn the start, and his elite 11-1 NRFI record justifies it. He’s coming off a near-perfect outing last week vs. the Angels – which marked his 2nd near-perfect start of the campaign. If I said backing NRFI was my preferred cup of tea vs. a lineup featuring Ohtani, Judge, Devers and Guerrero – I’d be lying through my teeth. Is it a risk I’m willing to take with Kershaw pitching from the comfort of his home stadium, though? Absolutely. In Kershaw we trust to pitch a clean Top of the 1st.
If the veteran southpaw can navigate the first half unscathed, I like his younger counterpart’s chances to wrap this NRFI up and tie a bow on it. Like Kershaw, Shane McClanahan will be tested with tough matchups, but there’s one key difference: 3 of the 4 top National League hitters have never faced McClanahan. Facing an elite pitcher for the first time is far from easy, even for the best hitters. This simple fact pulls through in the data for a guy like McClanahan, especially when looking at 1st inning splits:
Since 2020, Shane McClanahan is 21-2 (91.3%) NRFI vs. non-divisional opponents. That compares to just 12-8 (60.0%) NRFI vs. Divisional opponents (i.e., teams that see him more often)
Full disclosure: I do not expect a sweat-free cash. The lineups are just too good. There’s a real chance they’ll make us look silly. That said, it’s a risk I’m willing to take with these pitchers on the bump and a low Game Total (which implies Vegas expects a low scoring game).
The Pick: No Run First Inning (-130) via Caesars
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