MLB NRFI Night in America Locks, and How to Handicap the Hermo Way

Troy HermoContributor IApril 20, 2021

Philadelphia Phillies' Zack Wheeler delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Tonight and every Tuesday during the MLB season is NRFI Night in America, and we are on fire these past few days.

What's an NRFI? It's a baseball betting proposition that stands for "no-run first inning," in which you bet there will be zero runs scored in the first frame.

NRFI nation: What a ride it has been these past two weeks. We are 32-16 in 2021 after we ripped off an 8-1 record at the end of last week. Vibes and followers in NRFI nation are off the charts and reaching new levels every day.

You know the drill by now. Every Tuesday, I'll sift through the first-inning stats and hitter analysis to give the best plays available on the card. You can also follow my daily plays in the B/R Betting community section. Odds for every NRFI line can be found on DraftKings.

Here are the four NRFI locks for Tuesday's slate. Let's keep the momentum rolling.


NRFI of the Week: The Hermo Hammer Lock

3-Unit Play: San Francisco Giants (Logan Webb) at Philadelphia Phillies (Zack Wheeler) -106

Love, love, love this matchup. We get one of the lowest-scoring first-inning offenses in the league in the Giants (0.4 runs per game) facing Zack Wheeler—who had a 0.82 first-inning ERA in 11 starts last season. This year Wheeler is at 6.00, but that's because he had a blown first inning on the road. In fact, Wheeler "The NRFI dealer" is a home NRFI pitcher.

Which brings us to my NRFI stat of the night: In 15 career starts at Citizens Bank Park, Wheeler has a 13-2 record in keeping his half of the first inning scoreless. Vibey. If you're not sold enough, he also has a career 7-0 NRFI record versus the Giants.

Logan Webb has a 3.86 career first-inning ERA, making him one of the more reliable NRFI pitchers in the NL West. So far this year, he hasn't allowed a first-inning run in two starts, giving me the utmost confidence he will pull through for NRFI nation.


Other Locks

2-Unit Play: Milwaukee Brewers (Corbin Burnes) at San Diego Padres (Chris Paddack) -137

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

The Scoop

  • Corbin Burnes is an NRFI machine. In 16 career starts, he has a 1.69 first-inning ERA. Last year, it was 2.00, and in three starts this year he is perfect at 0.00.
  • Chris Paddack has a 13-6 record of keeping his half of the first inning scoreless at Petco Park.
  • Paddock holds a 3.73 career first-inning ERA through 41 starts.


1-Unit Play: Minnesota Twins (Matt Shoemaker) at Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea) -122

The Scoop

  • Shoemaker has a 3.82 career first-inning ERA. Last year it was even better at 1.50 through six starts. In 2021, he has been an NRFI star, remaining perfect in two starts.
  • Shoemaker has a 10-5 NRFI record against the A's, including 6-3 at Oakland Coliseum.
  • Manaea sports a 2.93 ERA in 98.1 career first innings.
  • This would be a two-unit play if the wind weren't blowing out at 10-12 mph. Not vibey.


1-Unit Play: St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) at Washington Nationals (Patrick Corbin) +112

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The Scoop

  • In Wainwright's 16-year career, he has a 3.83 first-inning ERA. This year, he is perfect through three starts.
  • Wainwright has a 12-4 record of keeping the Nationals scoreless in the first inning in his career.
  • Patrick Corbin has a 5-2 record of keeping the Cardinals scoreless in seven starts. Corbin loves pitching at Nationals Park with a 20-6 NRFI record all-time.


NRFI Night in America

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NRFI nation.


I've been asked how I do this research, and it's simple—just time consuming. Even you at home can become an NRFI nation handicapper. Research is the most important tool of investing in stocks and bonds, and it should be the most important tool with your sports gambling as well. Stats and records designed to give us an edge—like a pitcher's first-inning ERA—can tip us off about whether a player is comfortable starting games.

Here's the step-by-step procedure to become an NRFI legend the same way my dad taught me.


Handicapping NRFIs: The Hermo Way

Step 1: Follow @TroyHermo on Twitter for fun facts and scoops provided throughout the day.

Step 2: Dig to find out first-inning ERAs on Baseball Reference in the splits section.

Example: In today's card, Burnes has a 1.69 ERA in the first inning in 16 starts. That's unbelievable, even for such a small sample size. On the other hand, some players stick out YRFI-wise, including Julio Urias of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The poor guy has a 5.05 career first-inning ERA, was at 9.00 last year and in three starts this year is at 6.00. Big yikes.

Step 3: Something I majorly consider is career records in the first inning against opponents. For example, my NRFI stat of the night, which is Wheeler sporting a 13-2 NRFI record of keeping his half of the inning scoreless at Citizens Bank Park in 15 starts. Another great example is Nationals starter Patrick Corbin's 20-6 record at Nationals Park in keeping his half of the inning scoreless.

Step 4: Check the batter vs. pitcher stats on DailyBaseballData.com, and you can find really good tidbits of info that will push you to lock or push you to stay away.

Example: Atlanta Braves superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. is 1-for-3 with a home run against the New York Yankees' Jameson Taillon, so I'm going to stay away from this game as the Braves already rank No. 1 in runs in the first inning this year (1.2 per game), even if Acuna misses the game with an abdominal strain. They mashed four homers against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

Step 5: TeamRankings.com shows first-inning runs per game so we know who is killing NRFI nation this year.

Step 6: If you can't decide if it's a lock by this step, go to DailyBaseballData.com and click the weather tab. It shows what the wind and precipitation will be like for the games and where it's blowing.

Step 7: It's a lot of work, so if you ever feel like "I don't want to do this," just refer back to Step 1 and you are all set. I will do the work for you! I only select the best of the best matchups, and if the stats don't jump off the page, I stay away.


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