If you read my column yesterday, you know about the No Run First Inning (NRFI) trend on Opening Day. After going 6-1 yesterday, NRFI improved to 34-16 (68%) on Opening Day since 2019.
Is the trend due for a reversal, or should we ride with it again today? Looking at the slate, I see plenty of NRFI opportunities and prefer to ride the trend. Here’s my best 1st inning bet for MLB Season, Day 2.
Chicago White Sox @ Detroit Tigers - 1pm ET
Betting NRFI was 43-38 (53.1%) last year in games played at Comerica Park in Detroit. Interestingly, YRFI reigned supreme in Day Games, finishing 22-19 (53.6%). The first 4 games of the Tigers’ season last year featured a 1st inning run, which was ultimately the difference. Excluding those, NRFI held a slight edge in Tigers’ Home Day games, going 19-18 (51.4%).
Today, I’m targeting this matchup because I like the pitchers. Here’s my breakdown of the matchup between Chicago Ace, Lucas Giolito, and Tigers’ newcomer, Eduardo Rodriguez (acquired in offseason; previously with Boston):
Both pitchers earned an impressive 24-7 NRFI record last year (earned runs basis).
As a visitor, Giolito went 13-3 NRFI, while Rodriguez went 11-2 NRFI when pitching at Home. This year, the latter (Rodriguez) has a new team, so I’m not putting much weight into his home/road split.
Detroit’s offense ranked 28th in 1st inning score % last year, which makes them a nice target for NRFIs. Their scoring percentage should improve this year with the addition of Javier Baez in the offseason. Besides him, I’m not too concerned about this Tigers offense today.
The White Sox offense was middle of the pack, scoring in 30.7% of 1st innings (14th highest), which dropped to 27.4% in their away games (15th highest). This year they added A.J. Pollock, previously with the Dodgers, who I’ll admit scares me a little. He had an incredible 0.444 On-Base Percentage (OBP) in 1st innings last year, though it was a small sample size. This year, he’s penciled to bat leadoff for Chicago. As more data rolls in, we’ll get a better understanding of Pollock’s impact and whether his 1st inning performance is sustainable.
Weather shouldn’t be much of a factor in this one. Wind is projected to blow 11 MPH Left-to-Right, which I view as favorable since it reduces the risk of home runs from Left Handed Hitters, and the White Sox have a formidable one in Jose Abreu (batting 3rd).
As mentioned yesterday — prepare yourself for heartbreak. It does tend to happen with these 1st inning bets. The opposite is also true — when they hit, nothing feels better. It’s a real thrill.