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: 115-78 (59.6 percent)
- 2021 YRFI record: 42-38 (52.5 percent)
- As posted on Twitter, @TroyHermo
Is the NRFI Dead?
People keep asking me via DM, is the NRFI dead? The answer will always be the same.
Right now? Yes.
The NRFI is not dead, it's just hibernating.
The man, the myth, the legend Mikey Locks and I were in agreement that there will often typically be a spike in NRFIs in the cooler months, and that begins to fade as the schedule approaches the All-Star break. Our fade began early based solely, I believe, on the Spider Tack ban. There was no capper in the country who could come up with a winning formula for a couple of weeks after the ban.
We will see NRFIs begin to pick up again around late August when the Fall Classic is approaching. At that point, NRFIs will be back to their 65 percent winning ways, and we will be back hammering bets week in, week out.
Until then, we will continue enjoying the YRFI days of summer with the rest of you. There's nothing better than rooting for hits with the crew and vibing to two-out homers—something that used to deflate our days. Now that sort of action has us running around the house screaming in joy.
Like everything in nature, the NRFI comes and goes with the seasons. Teams start making pushes for the playoffs and starters become more focused. Games mean more in September. To those who can still find NRFIs in this climate, I salute you. I'm picking and choosing my spots and still getting heartbroken, but I know deep down it won't last forever.
And whether it's YRFI or NRFI lines, you already know this is the spot to check out for the best analysis.
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.
There are multiple great selections this week, including a player-induced YRFI hammer pick that has so much data backing it making it a virtual lock, and plenty of leans to fill out those parlay cards for the "Hermo mean lean team."
It's the best day of the week. Our day. YRFI night in America.
Hermo Lock of the Week: "Mr. First Inning" Special
2-Unit YRFI Hammer: Atlanta Braves (Max Fried) at St. Louis Cardinals (Jon Lester) [-105]
- Max Fried has struggled in the first inning this year on the road with a 4-4 NRFI/YRFI record and a 7.88 FI (first inning) ERA. Thus far in 2021, Fried has a below-average 5.82 FI ERA and is averaging 4.7 batters faced in those innings. He's coming up against the Cardinals bats who seem to have found new life in the second half of the season. Look out for Nolan Arenado, who is 3-for-10 off Fried and 5-for-15 this last week, to put some pressure on the Braves early.
- One of the more surprising trades of the deadline was Jon Lester to the Cardinals. Lester has really struggled opening games to the tune of a 7.88 FI ERA and an average of 4.75 batters faced. Not vibey for NRFI bettors, but vibey for us today. Plus, he's going against a Braves lineup that has a history with him, and that includes new addition Adam Duvall, who is 11-for-36 (.306) with two home runs. Also the one and only NRFI killer, Mr. First Inning himself, Ozzie Albies.
- Albies is a first-inning hitting machine, batting 27-for-77 (.351) with two homers this year, and he is 106-for-337 (.315) with 15 home runs lifetime. Against Lester, he is 8-for-12 (.667) with a 1.631 OPS. Earning the nickname "Mr. First Inning," he is dialed in to start games.
That's why the Braves are the No. 3 team in the country YRFI-wise, averaging a staggering 0.71 runs per game in the first inning. Albies hits, and Freddie Freeman or Duvall hit him home. We cash, and all is right with the world.
Prayers up we get an "over"-leaning umpire with a wide zone to make this even juicier. Follow me on Twitter for updates on that end. I will have a full Hermo Map for this game and others, all posted throughout the day.
Other Leans on the Card
YRFI: Philadelphia Phillies (Zack Wheeler) at Washington Nationals (Patrick Corbin) [-105]
- Corbin has an 8.55 FI ERA and averages five batters faced in those innings, making him a candidate for YRFI Meatballer of the Year.
- The meat of the Phillies lineup has hit Corbin well: Alec Bohm is 4-for-10, Rhys Hoskins is 8-for-23 (although he's day-to-day) and Bryce Harper is 8-for-28.
- Juan Soto is 9-for-30 with two home runs off Wheeler.
NRFI: Houston Astros (Lance McCullers Jr.) at Los Angeles Dodgers (Walker Buehler) [-110]
- This is a stat-friendly NRFI spot, as Walker "NRFI" Buehler has a very impressive 2.14 FI ERA and averages only 3.66 batters faced in those innings. It makes him one of the front-runners to be on my first-team All-NRFI squad at the end of the season.
The only Astros player to have homered off Buehler is Carlos Correa, who is only hitting .143 lifetime at Dodger Stadium. Buehler is up against McCullers Jr., who over the course of his career has been an above-average NRFI pitcher with a career 3.64 FI ERA in 108 starts.
Why Finding Trends with Props Is Key to Overall Success
Props are the most volatile bets in sports.
Innings, hits, home runs and the probability of hitting these bets make them challenging but also make them fun for stat-based sports investors like myself. I love finding a good trend and riding it till the rails fall off.
Example: For every day game the Oakland Athletics play this year (before 3 p.m. PT), I load up on Matt Olson player props. That's because my dad showed me the day-game splits. Look who is No. 1.
Olson is 58-for-152 (.382) with 17 homers this year during day games compared to 44-for-212 (.208) with eight home runs at night. These small things can make big differences in the outcomes of your props. I look for every possible angle, and receiving confirmation they are hitting over .300 in all of them makes it a prop lock.
My prop routine is to check splits during the week, check history versus a pitcher, history at the ballpark (if the home team, just recent stats of the current season), and lastly, I will look at day- and night-game splits. Taking the time to do these things has already paid huge dividends on my prop plays and has helped me be more selective.
Remember, if there is a play in doubt, just leave it out. You will be beating yourself up if you play every prop that has solid data. If you find out someone is .175 at the ballpark and that scares you, just stay away. There's nothing better than watching that batter go 0-for-4 and knowing you had the information and the guts to stay away. Some of the best bets are the ones you don't make.
As always, research pays and the stats don't lie. I will see you all next week.
Look out on my Twitter page, @TroyHermo, for complete Hermo Stat maps of games and videos on player props and much more. Videos will also be posted in the B/R Betting community section of the Bleacher Report App.