NRFI Night in America: Rallying with a Hermo Hammer Lock After Rough Week

Troy HermoContributor IMay 18, 2021

Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Manaea against the Minnesota Twins during the first baseball game of a doubleheader in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

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

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.

  • 2021 NRFI record: 83-44 (65.4%)
  • Last Week: 6-11 (35.3%)
  • 2021 YRFI record: 13-13 (50.0%)
  • Last Week: 1-3 (25.0%)

As posted on Twitter @TroyHermo.


It was an awful week for NRFI nation all across the board—not just my plays. If you tuned in to my Twitter Spaces, you know I was expecting the YRFI to get hotter as the weather got warmer, but I wasn't expecting a complete change in NRFI fortune in May.

Thought we had at least until mid-June before the tides turned on us and we would have to become super selective. But alas, it was a 6-11 week, and it felt like I couldn't hit water falling out of a boat. That's going to happen when you play volatile first-inning props. You have to tighten up, watch out for red flags and believe in yourself. Just because a first-inning star such as Corbin Burnes gave up a run to the St. Louis Cardinals last week doesn't mean he's a no-play for the rest of the year (no matter how much it hurt).

We follow the stats, we follow the info, and if luck and talent beat us, then I can live with that. It's what we do with the losses that makes us different than most cappers. Instead of chasing and pushing games, the focus is more on ranking the value of the card. Finding small stats that can make the biggest differences. Information is power, and I'm finding new stats every day to help me find winners.

I will get NRFI nation out of this slump if it's the last thing I do. One game at a time. One stat at a time. One pitch at a time. My promise to you, NRFI nation, and all the "Hermo Hitters" out there who terrorize the books with my information. They got us last week. I got them this week. Let's go.

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.   


NRFI Night in America: The Hermo Hammer Play of the Week

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

2-Unit Play: Houston Astros (Cristian Javier) at Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea) -118

The Scoop

Cristian Javier

  • Cristian Javier had been perfect in NRFIs in 2021 before giving up a home run his last time out. Still, he is 16-1 in lifetime NRFI opportunities, making him a walking lock every time he goes out there.
  • In 17 career starts, Javier averages 3.4 batters faced in the first inning, which is one of the lowest figures I've seen. He comes prepared regardless of the venue.
  • He has a 4-0 NRFI record against the Oakland Athletics.
  • Notable top-of-the-lineup bats against Javier:
    Matt Olson, 1-for-8
    Mark Canha, 2-for-8
    Ramon Laureano, 1-for-8
    Matt Chapman, 1-for-6

Sean Manaea

  • Sean Manaea has a 43-9 NRFI record at the Oakland Coliseum. Vibey. Why I call the Coliseum NRFI National.
  • On the road this year, he has a 12.00 ERA in the first inning with batters hitting him at a clip of .385, but at home he has a 1.80 first-inning ERA and that average is down to .222.
  • Despite giving up four runs on the road in his last couple of starts—and giving up his only run at home to the Houston Astros this year—I'm going with the home numbers for Manaea to get us back to NRFI glory at NRFI National.


1-Unit Play: Milwaukee Brewers (Brandon Woodruff) at Kansas City Royals (Kris Bubic) -143

Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

The Scoop

  • Brandon Woodruff is a NRFI machine, sporting a 2.78 lifetime first-inning ERA with first-inning batters hitting only .211.
  • This year is no different. Through eight starts, Woodruff has accumulated a 2.25 first-inning ERA, holding batters to a .111 average.
  • On the road, batters are hitting only .077 in the first inning, giving me the utmost confidence he can handle this mediocre Kansas City Royals lineup.

Kris Bubic

  • Kris Bubic was inserted as the starter after Danny Duffy was a late scratch.
  • Bubic hasn't made a start this season, but he held an 8-2 NRFI record in 2020.
  • He sports a 3.60 first-inning ERA in his career.


YRFI of the Day: The Hermo Meatball Special

John Bazemore/Associated Press

2-Unit Play: Washington Nationals (Patrick Corbin) at Chicago Cubs (Zach Davies)  -130

Patrick Corbin

  • Patrick Corbin has a 9.00 ERA this year in the first inning, averaging 4.9 batters in those innings. Ugly.
  • Corbin is 5-2 against the Chicago Cubs in NRFIs, but two of those losses were at Wrigley Field (2-2).
  • The meat of the Cubs lineup sees him really well:
    Javier Baez, 5-for-14, 2 HR
    Kris Bryant, 5-for-11
    Anthony Rizzo, 4-for-15, 1 HR

This is what you love to see when handicapping a potential YRFI.

Zach Davies

  • Zach Davies is an average first-inning pitcher with a 4.40 career first-inning ERA and 4.5 batters faced per first inning.
  • This year, Davies has struggled with a 6.75 first-inning ERA—and once again averages 4.5 batters in those innings. The lower the batters faced figure, the more likely it is for an NRFI; the higher the figure, the more likely it is for a YRFI. That's just first-inning 101.
  • Davies throws in the high 80s, making him a target for hitters such as Juan Soto, who has never seen him but jumps on fastballs. Trea Turner (2-for-3) and Josh Harrison (6-for-12) have good numbers against Davies too.

To make matters worse for Corbin and Davies, the wind will be blowing out to left field at 14 mph—making Wrigley Field a launching pad.


Hermo's Corner of Gambling Advice

Getting Out of Slumps and Staying the Course

Losing is a part of life.

There's not a person on this planet who has never lost. Even the greats lose. It's how you deal with those losses that makes you who you are. You might lose a game with your partner, you might lose out on that job you really wanted, or in my case, you might go 6-11 in a week.

It's going to happen on a daily basis, but you can't be scared of losing, because losing teaches you the most valuable things in life—and that's the bounce-back. Last year, I went on three losing streaks with NRFIs, and it's all because I was playing too many games and wasn't saying no to obvious red flags.

Losing streaks make you stare in the mirror and say, "You got this." You have the info, you have the power, don't be afraid. Just make sure you lean on the right indicators. I went on to hit six 10-unit Hermo Hammers to end the season because I noticed what was wrong and waited for better matchups.

Example from Monday: I really wanted to play the Washington Nationals' Jon Lester's first start back at Wrigley Field, knowing Lester had a 62-30 NRFI record there. Digging deeper, however, I saw he was only 12-9 in the last two years. And with the uncertain Adbert Alzolay on the mound for the Cubs, I stayed away. Lester allowed a sac fly in the first inning.

Pick and choose your spots. Stay motivated and only play what you feel is the best value. That's all you can ask of yourself. Don't chase; stay the path. Stay with the information. Always look for an angle rather than action, and you will be more successful at getting out of slumps. Even the best stock investors miss, but they are smart and know if they keep their head high and trust their info they will be successful in the long run.

Same here.

Over the season, we will be successful. We will be profitable. We will be 5,000 to 10,000 strong and a nightmare for the books. That's my hammer of the year and my promise to you.