MLB YRFI Night in America: As Spin Rates Go Down so Does NRFI

Troy HermoContributor IJuly 6, 2021

Aaron Nola
Aaron NolaAssociated Press

Tonight and every Tuesday during the MLB season is NRFI Night in America.

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. (Unless you're betting a YRFI—yes run first inning.)

2021 NRFI record: 110-71 (60.8 percent)

2021 YRFI record: 31-25 (55.4 percent)

(As posted on Twitter @TroyHermo.)


It's a YRFI summer. With the warming weather, the Spider Tack ban and batters in the groove of the season, we have reached the no NRFI zone. Happens every year, I promise, but this year with the sticky stuff ban it's really apparent. You used to find a few gems throughout the week, but that's proving to be tougher and harder to predict. (For more on the spin-rate decline, check out this article by SI's Tom Verducci.)

Instead of fighting the trends, let's ride this heat wave to some YRFI night in America winners until the NRFI inevitably returns at the end of August with some cooler weather and perhaps Major League Baseball not checking pitchers as frequently. I still believe in the NRFI—just not until the YRFI rates have gone back down.

I have three plays for you and leans for every game on the slate.

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 YRFI and NRFI line can be found on DraftKings

YRFI Night in America: The Hermo Hammer Plays

2-Unit Hermo Hammer: Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) at Chicago Cubs (Jake Arrieta) [-127]

The Scoop


  • He has really struggled on the road this year with a 5.32 ERA in nine starts.
  • His first-inning road ERA is 8.00, and he averages 4.4 batters faced.
  • Lifetime 4.74 ERA at Wrigley Field.
  • Meat of the Cubs order sees Nola well:
    • Kris Bryant: 3-for-10 (.300), 1 HR
    • Anthony Rizzo: 5-for-12 (.417), 2 HR
    • Willson Contreras: 3-for-7 (.429), 0 HR


  • Normally a calm, cool cucumber in the first inning, he has a 3.25 ERA in his career.
  • But he's struggled this year with a 5.06 ERA and averages 4.8 batters faced.
  • He has a 7.50 first-inning ERA at Wrigley Field in six starts this season.
  • The YRFI is 4-2 in Arrieta's home starts this year.


1-Unit Atlanta Braves (Ian Anderson) at Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl) [-137]

The culprit who killed the Jacob deGrom NRFI a week ago is back for more YRFI action. Anderson is an above-average pitcher who just needs to settle down in the first inning. I believe we will cash NRFI tickets with him in the future. But right now, he has a 5.06 first-inning ERA.

He's matchup'd with Chad "Not-So" Kuhl, who struggles in the first inning:

  • 9.00 ERA.
  • 5.1 batters faced.
  • At PNC Park, he has a 6.00 first-inning ERA.
  • Look out for Mr. First Inning: Ozzie Albies is 23-for-57 (.397) with two homers in the first inning this year.
  • He got an RBI single off deGrom just last week.
  • The Braves are sixth in runs scored percentage in the first inning (33.7) and second in first-inning runs (0.75 per game).


Mean Leans

(A lean is not a play—more how I see the game. Sometimes umpire announcements can turn leans into plays.)

Washington Nationals (Patrick Corbin) at San Diego (Ryan Weathers) YRFI: Corbin has a 10.27 first-inning ERA on the road this year.

St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) at San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto) NRFI [-105]: Waino has a 2.81 first-inning ERA through 16 starts, and Cueto is at 2.08 through 13 starts.

New York Yankees (Jameson Taillon) at Seattle Mariners (Justus Sheffield) YRFI [-134]: Taillon has a 12.46 road first-inning ERA this year.

Boston Red Sox (Nathan Eovaldi) at Los Angeles Angels (Shohei Ohtani) YRFI [-107]: Ohtani is a great pitcher—just not so much early in games. He issues walks and averages 5.2 batters faced in the first inning. Not vibey or good for a NRFI nation bettor's heart rate.

Go YRFI with Boston being a top-five YRFI team.

Chicago White Sox (Carlos Rodon) at Minnesota Twins (Jose Berrios) NRFI [-125]: Rodon has a 1.93 first-inning ERA this year in 14 starts, making him a contender for a Hermo first-team All-NRFI selection at the end of the year. Berrios has a 3.38 first-inning ERA and 2.57 first-inning ERA at Target Field.

Some worry about the wind blowing out at 12-14 mph. The umpire announcement and weather could make this a play.

Cincinnati Reds (Luis Castillo) at Kansas City Royals (Kris Bubic) NRFI [-113]: Castillo has rebounded from a dreadful April-May and NRFI'd the Padres and Braves in his past two starts. But hard to trust that Bubic, just recently back in the starting rotation, will zero the Reds.

Oakland Athletics (Chris Bassitt) at Houston Astros (Framber Valdez) NRFI [-114]: Bassitt has been a NRFI machine this year at home and on the road with a 2.12 first-inning ERA through 17 starts. It's 2.00 on the road, but the Astros see him well.

Valdez has a 1.29 first-inning ERA through seven starts.

Jon Gray
Jon GrayDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

Los Angeles Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin) at Miami Marlins (Pablo Lopez) YRFI [-110]: Gonsolin has struggled, averaging 5.3 batters faced in the first in the four starts he has made. Mookie Betts is 2-for-3 (.667) off Lopez.

Detroit Tigers (Jose Urena) at Texas Rangers (Dane Dunning) YRFI [-115]: Urena and Dunning combine to average 9.3 batters faced in the first inning. Dunning has been pitching better as of late and at home.

Toronto Blue Jays (Steven Matz) at Baltimore Orioles (TBD) YRFI [-121]: If Matt Harvey starts this game, YRFI it without hesitation. Harvey at Camden Yards is as dangerous as it gets.

Milwaukee Brewers (Brett Anderson) at New York Mets (Jacob deGrom) NRFI [-143]: Another deGrom start wasted by a challenger who doesn't meet the NRFI standard. 

Colorado Rockies (Jon Gray) at Arizona Diamondbacks (Merrill Kelly) YRFI [-118]: Gray is awful outside of Coors Field. He has a 5.32 ERA on the road in five starts and a 7.20 first-inning ERA in those games. Gray also has a lifetime 5.01 ERA against the Diamondbacks, and the heart of the order sees him well.

(Cleveland (J.C. Mejia) at Tampa Bay Rays (Michael Wacha) was postponed.)


Hermo's Corner of Gambling Advice: Rank Your Plays

Rank your plays. It may sound so simple, but if done right, it can help weed out the weak plays that often ruin a good card and a good day.

Every morning, find five to 10 bets you like, and then try to rank them. Use stats and your knowledge.

Research the games, and look at the maps/sheets/percentages. Ranking them can help your brain organize the information.

Look for red flags that may keep a play off the board.

This can keep you from playing 10 games. Instead, play your top five.

Make it easier on yourself.