MLB: First five inning best bets and analysis for Tuesday, April 2nd

MLB first five inning best bets and analysis for Thursday, March 28th.

Mar 28, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Juan Soto (22) hits an RBI single during the fifth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

First Five Inning Best Bets for Tuesday, April 2nd

Welcome to my biweekly first five inning article! Twice a week throughout baseball season I’ll write up some of the more intriguing first five inning plays of the day. Handicapping pitchers is such a big part of betting baseball, and betting first fives is something I have gravitated to as a bettor.

Betting the first five innings is a way to simplify the handicap. The bullpens should have very little impact, and starting pitchers dominate the analysis. The randomness of relief pitchers altering the outcome is all but eliminated, which makes me feel more secure in the handicap.


This article will be my way of working my baseball handicapping muscles for the first time over the course of a whole season. Handicapping a moneyline sport such as this presents unique challenges, and I look forward to experiencing those in this column.

As always, make sure to keep an eye out for Adam Burke’s columns which will appear daily. Adam is our primary baseball mind, and will be so once again throughout this season. 

Throughout the season I will be keeping track of the results of this article, which you can view here

MLB Betting Resources

MLB Odds | Makinen’s MLB Power Ratings | First 5 Innings Analyzer

First Five Inning Best Bets

Kansas City Royals (+136) at Baltimore Orioles (-162) | Total: 8.5 (OV -125)

Alec Marsh vs Cole Irvin

Rain will be falling throughout the day in Baltimore so there is a strong chance this gets postponed. But, if they do play today the Orioles are in a good spot to grab a win in the first five innings.

Alec Marsh will get the start for Kansas City here after winning the fifth rotation spot in spring training. Marsh made 17 appearances last season, eight of which were starts. In those starts he posted a 7.64 ERA with a 7.84 FIP, suggesting the issues were real. Command was the biggest issue for Marsh. He walked 11.4% of the batters he faced last season, and 9.5% in spring training.

Marsh shouldn’t pitch too deep into this contest, which could give us some cracks at a bullpen in the first five innings that has been poor in the early portion of the season. 

Baltimore is swinging the bats well through the first five days as well. They are fourth in wRC+ (132) and hitting .267 as a team with the fourth-lowest strikeout rate (17.6%). The Orioles should have plenty to chase Marsh early, get some swings against this shoddy bullpen and grab a win through the first five frames.

Bet Recommendation: Orioles F5 -0.5 (-130)

New York Yankees (+105) at Arizona Diamondbacks (-125) | Total: 8.5 (OV -125)

Nestor Cortes vs Zac Gallen

Nestor Cortes gets his second start of the season, and he is hoping it will go better than the first. On Opening Day Cortes was knocked around for five hits and four earned runs. He was also taken deep by Jake Meyers. The average exit velocity for Houston was 93.6 miles per hour, and 53.3% of batted balls were considered hard hit.

I’m not one who buys into the assumed resurgence of Cortes. His 4.49 FIP and 4.84 xFIP last season suggest legitimacy when it comes to his 4.97 ERA. Cortes’ start against the Astros only added evidence to that case. Arizona was 25th in wRC+ against left-handed pitching last season, but I believe their floor is raised by Cortes here.

Having said that, it would be foolish to ignore how well this Yankees lineup is performing to start the season.

New York plated five runs in the first three innings last night, and chased Ryne Nelson before he achieved his ninth out. Juan Soto looks incredible early and the bottom of the lineup is hitting well at this point. It has masked a slow start for Aaron Judge who is just 3-for-21 to start the season.

Zac Gallen will oppose this lineup tonight. Usually it would be foolish to go against Gallen at home, but the Diamondbacks’ ace was not great in his first start of the season. He walked two hitters – struck one – allowed three hits and struck out just three. Six of his batted balls allowed were hard hit. New York is good enough to make him work tonight.

The Diamondbacks were going to be the play here as I try to play against Cortest consistently. But, considering how well the Yankees are hitting and the poor outing from Gallen, we should get some runs early tonight at Chase Field.

Recommended Bet: F5 OVER 4.5 (-130)