YRFI and NRFI MLB Best Bets for Friday, July 21


Best Bets on Today’s MLB YRFI and NRFI Markets

Despite some offensive outbursts across MLB, the NRFI is 53-43 (55.2%) since the All-Star break, as the pitching has been slightly ahead of the hitting, at least early in games. I understand the volatility of these wagers can be incredibly frustrating at times, especially after I went 0-2 last Sunday and just 2-4 last week. However, I truly believe it pales in comparison to the randomness involved with handicapping bullpens on a nightly basis. At least with a first-inning wager, I know exactly who will be on the mound and the exact sequence of hitters that pitcher will face in the top and bottom of the inning.


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Keep reading to find out my best bets for Friday, July 21st. I recommend two units for each. All odds are via DraftKings, but be sure to shop around for the best line.

Best Bets Season Record: 35-31 (53.0%) -4.51u -3.5% ROI

Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics

Last night was a low-scoring 3-1 affair out west between these two division foes, with Oakland scoring their only run of the game in the first inning. Today they draw one of the toughest matchups on the board against Astros ace Framber Valdez, who has posted a 16-1 NRFI record this season, including a flawless 7-0 mark on the road with solid data across the board to back it up. Valdez will face an Athletics lineup that has scored just 11 times in 51 home games this season (21.6%), which is the second-lowest rate in MLB. 

Lefty JP Sears will start for Oakland, and this is definitely the trickier side of the matchup. Sears has posted just a 12-8 NRFI record this season and has the highest xFIP in the first inning for any starting pitcher on the board today. Thankfully, he gets to face an Astros lineup that has struggled in the opening frame against southpaws with the sixth-lowest wRC+ since June 1st while batting just .237 on balls in play. 

Here’s how the starting pitchers have fared against the projected top of each lineup:

Framber Valdez vs:

Tony Kemp (1-for-4, 2 BBs)

Zack Gelof (never faced)

Jordan Diaz (0-for-5, 2 Ks)


JP Sears vs:

Mauricio Dubon (never faced)

Jeremy Pena (1-for-5)

Kyle Tucker (1-for-4, K)

Bet: No Run First Inning (-145)


Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins

This game has the highest implied probability of any NRFI on my sheet today. The main reason is the White Sox lineup, which has scored just 10 times in 52 road games this season (19.2%), one of the lowest rates in MLB. Chicago has the tougher side of the matchup today, facing Joe Ryan, who has posted a 15-4 NRFI record this season with a sub-3.00 xFIP to back it up. The one hiccup for Ryan this season has been the long ball. In fact, all four times he has surrendered a run in the opening frame has come via the home run. I’m not as concerned tonight, facing a Chicago lineup that has the third-lowest first-inning wRC+ vs right-handed pitching this season.

Lance Lynn has posted a subpar 11-8 NRFI record and .313 batting average against in the first inning this season, but some of the underlying data points to him pitching better than those numbers indicate. For example, Lynn’s overall xFIP (3.83) is significantly lower than his actual FIP (4.96), and the same delta exists between his ERA (6.06) and xERA (4.86) so it’s very fair to say Lynn has been one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball this season. He gets to face a Twins lineup that is just below league average in scoring early runs at home this season and could be a little road weary after returning late last night following a seven-day road trip in Oakland and Seattle to start the second half.

Here’s how the starting pitchers have fared against the projected top of each lineup:

Lance Lynn vs:

Carlos Correa (4-for-20, HR, 9 Ks, BB)

Edouard Julien (never faced)

Byron Buxton (2-for-9, HR, 5 Ks)


Joe Ryan vs:

Andrew Benintendi (4-for-8, 2B, 3B)

Tim Anderson (0-for-4, K, 2 BBs)

Luis Robert Jr.  (0-for-3, K, BB)

Bet: No Run First Inning (-140)


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