MLB NRFI Night in America: It's a YRFI Fest with Three Meaty Locks

Troy HermoContributor IJuly 20, 2021

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. waits for a pitch from the Baltimore Orioles during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated 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: 113-75 (60.1 percent)

2021 YRFI record: 35-29 (54.6 percent)

(As posted on Twitter @TroyHermo.)

Sorry hot girls, it's officially a YRFI summer. Balls are flying out of yards, pitchers have less control, and it seems almost unfair that the books juiced our beloved NRFI not so long ago.

Markets have switched, and rightfully so. YRFI is now a -120, -130 favorite in most books. Following trends is a big part of sports handicapping, and staying ahead of them is even more important. We see this every year. It's always a NRFI spring followed by a YRFI Summer before coming back full circle to a NRFI fall classic.

I've been trying to swim upstream and fight it by thinking, “Well, if I just be selective,” but even when I'm selective, I overthink some games. Or worse, I hammer the numbers and watch a two-out homer go over the fence. No more, I say! Especially when I saw today's card, which immediately screamed YRFI Fest. That's right, YRFI Fest! I see three YRFI hammers and of course, plenty of leans for the whole card for this week's Hermo “Mean Lean Dream Team."

You should know how it goes 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.

Let's get started.

Inaugural YRFI Fest: The Hermo Hammer YRFIs of the Week

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

2 Unit Hermo Hammer: Boston Red Sox (Garrett Richards) at Toronto Blue Jays (Alek Manoah) [-165]

The Scoop

Garrett Richards has had a hard time starting games this year with a 9.00 first-inning ERA in 18 starts and an average of 5.11 batters faced in those innings. The Blue Jays, in three starts against Richards, have a 3-0 YRFI record. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is 5-for-7 lifetime off Richards and is 3-for-9 (.333) with three home runs in last seven days. I smell a Vladdy Jr. bomb to deliver the YRFI hammer win.

If not, Manoah is a rookie going up against MLB's fifth-ranked team in first-inning runs scored. The Red Sox score 34.04 percent of the time in the first inning and average 0.74 runs in the first. The Red Sox are coming off an embarrassing loss to the depleted Yankees and will want to start hot. The small ballpark at Sahlen Field is also on our side, and the entire Toronto lineup sees Richards well and is averaging .306 against him.

2 Unit Hermo Hammer: Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) at New York Yankees (Domingo German) [-115]

The Scoop

Nola has been struggling on the road this year to start games, and he's had more than one blow-up inning. He's rocking a rough 7.20 first-inning ERA. And the Yanks proved that even without three stars, they could win the series vs. the hot Red Sox. I think Nola's road troubles will come out again in the Bronx.

Giancarlo Stanton will be one to watch, as he's 4-for-13 lifetime with two home runs against Nola. The Yankees are sending out German, who also has first-inning struggles with a 8.40 first-inning ERA and an average of 4.46 batters faced in those innings. This game screams YRFI.

2 Unit Play: Los Angeles Angels (Jose Suarez) at Oakland Athletics (James Kaprielian) [-115]

Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

The Scoop

The A’s have been on an absolute tear lately in the first inning. Overall, they are the ninth best team at scoring in the first this year, getting on the board an impressive 31.58 percent of the time. Suarez has had his struggles starting games with a lifetime 7.58 first-inning ERA. To make me swing even more towards a YRFI, Matt Olson has practically been a cheat code during day games. This year, he's 51-for-135 (.378) with 14 home runs. I will have several player props on “Mr. Day Game.”

On the other side of the inning, Shohei Ohtani has never faced Kaprielian, and, in my opinion, he is going to give the A's rookie a "welcome to the show moment" tomorrow. If the A's bats aren't the reason we are celebrating, hopefully it will be Ohtani continuing to show why he's becoming the new face of baseball.

Other Leans

Texas Rangers (Dane Dunning) at Detroit Tigers (Tarik Skubal) [-120]

Both Dunning and Skubal have their first-inning issues this year. Skubal has shown signs of brilliance, but Dunning has been less consistent. The Tigers were a different team before the break, and I expect them to show more signs of their rebuild here. If Akil Baddoo gets on base, we will score and cash this. He steals and does everything necessary to cash tickets for YRFI nation.

Kansas City Royals (Mike Minor) at Milwaukee Brewers (Eric Lauer) [-125]

Minor has been way more comfortable opening games on the road than at home this year. He still hasn't given up an earned run in the first inning during his nine starts away from Kauffman Stadium. This one has a decent shot to deliver on the NRFI.

Baltimore Orioles (John Means) at Tampa Bay Rays (Shane McClanahan) [+105]

Will Newton/Associated Press

John Means' return has me leaning NRFI in this one. He has a 2.31 first-inning ERA and averages only 3.91 batters faced in the first. There are no weather conditions to ruin this play, and the matchups look solid.

Hermos Corner: Unit Shaming and Why It Has to Stop

Those who read my column know I'm all about using healthy unit sizes that are based on your monthly income. Making sports gambling more like investing makes it more fun for everyone. There is less pain and more direction.

Lately, I've seen people shame others for using healthy unit sizes, and it has got to stop. People have lost livelihoods because they were using $100 units when they should've been using $5 unit. Not every capper is going to hit 70 percent forever. There's going to be some rough seas, and the only thing that keeps you afloat is healthy units.

My worst week lost was 18 units. That's $180 for me. Is it going to bankrupt me? No. Is my wife going to be pissed at me? Yes. But I'm not on the street and I'm not in any trouble. Whenever I beat cancer and can take on more responsibility, I can raise my units. But until then, I'm sitting here with the rest of the smart people at the healthy unit sizes. Nobody should shame anyone for that. In fact, I applaud you for using healthy units.

As DJ Khaled would say, “You smart." Stay safe, stay smart, stay educated. Take it day by day, one card at a time. Hit me up on Twitter and I would be happy to help you find a unit size that's right for you.

As always, research pays and the numbers don't lie. Let's have a great week. 

All stats courtesy of TeamRankings and Daily Baseball Data.