Top 3 MLB No Runs First Inning (NRFI) Picks & Odds for Thursday, August 4th (2022)

Twenty-four teams take the field for today’s Major League Baseball slate, and considering it’s a getaway day, we have action bright and early. The Brewers take on the Pirates at 12:35 p.m. ET from Pittsburgh, and the action runs all day through the Red Sox vs. Royals game at 8:10 p.m. ET. There’s no shortage of betting options today, so let’s dive into my top three No Runs First Inning (NRFI) bets. 

Odds Courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Game 1)

The second game of the three-game divisional series between the Cubs and Cardinals was pushed back to today due to rain in the St. Louis area last night. They’ll play two games today, with the first pitch in game one set for 2:15 p.m. ET from Busch Stadium. The Cubs look to snap their three-game skid as they turn to Marcus Stroman while the Cards go with Miles Mikolas. 

There were rumors from the beginning of the year that Stroman would be on the move at the deadline considering the Cubs were likely not going to contend this season. However, the right-hander stays a Cub for the final stretch of the season, and he’ll make his 14th start this afternoon. Stroman comes into today’s game at 3-5 with a 3.99 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He’s coming off of a great outing against the Giants on Friday, where he held them scoreless on eight hits and a walk over 6.0 innings. 

Mikolas has been putting together a really solid season for the Red Birds. The right-hander enters today’s game at 8-8 with a 2.86 ERA (16th) and 0.99 WHIP (9th) over 21 starts. Most recently, Mikolas threw against the Nationals on Friday and limited them to a pair of earned runs on six hits and a walk. He picked up the win, and St. Louis moved to 12-9 in his starts this year. 

Mikolas has always been a guy who throws better at Busch Stadium. That’s held true this year as the 33-year-old has posted a 2.31 ERA and 0.83 WHIP over 10 home starts. On the flip side, Stroman is in a grove right now. He made four starts in July and posted a 0.89 ERA over 20.1 innings of work. Let’s look for these right-handers to bring their best stuff in St. Louis this afternoon and keep a clean first frame. 

Bet: Cubs at Cardinals NRFI (-130 via DraftKings)

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants

Los Angeles looks to break out the brooms this afternoon in their four-game series with the Giants as they send Clayton Kershaw to the bump. Gabe Kepler gives Jakob Junis the nod in this divisional series finale slated for 3:45 p.m. ET from Oracle Park. 

Even at 34 years old, Clayton Kershaw continues to be a force in Major League Baseball. The southpaw has made 14 starts this year and gone 7-3 with a 2.66 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Kershaw’s coming off of a losing outing on Saturday against the Rockies in Denver. He gave up five runs (three earned) on eight hits in 5.1 innings of work. 

Junis has found a renaissance in his first season with the Giants. The right-hander has made 12 appearances (nine starts) this season with San Francisco in 2022 and gone 4-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. The 29-year-old threw against the Cubs on Saturday and held them scoreless over 4.0 innings of work. He gave up just five hits and a walk in the no-decision effort. 

Junis has only surrendered a lone earned run over his last two outings spanning 8.1 innings. In addition to his recent success, the hurler has limited this Dodgers lineup in his career. They’re just 5-30 (.167) against him, including 0-7 (.000) from Mookie Betts, 1-3 (.333) from Freddie Freeman, and 2-6 (.333) from Trea Turner. As for Kershaw, I like for him to carve up this mediocre Giants offense that ranks 24th in team batting average (.234) and 13th in OPS (.710). He’s faced San Fran twice this season and held them scoreless in the first inning both times. Let’s lock in NRFI in this spot. 

Bet: Dodgers at Giants NRFI (-125 via DraftKings)

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Minnesota Twins

The Blue Jays and Twins are set to open up a four-game series tonight at Target Field. We only get these cross-divisional matchups a few times a year, and with this being a potential playoff series, it’s shaping up to be a fun series from a baseball fan’s perspective. The pitching matchup is a good one with Alek Manoah going for the Jays while Sonny Gray takes the ball for the Twins. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. ET in this one. 

Manoah hasn’t been as dominant as he was to start the season, but the right-hander is still putting together a very solid year. He comes in at 11-5 with a 2.43 ERA (6th), and 0.99 WHIP (11th) over 20 starts this year. Manoah last threw against the Tigers on Friday, and they tagged him for four earned runs over 5.1 innings of work. He surrendered seven hits and a walk while striking out four in the losing effort. 

Gray’s been a serviceable option for the Twins this season. The right-handed veteran is 6-3 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 15 starts. Most recently, Gray pitched against the Padres and limited them to one earned run on five hits and a walk over 5.0 innings. He earned his second straight win, and the team improved to 10-5 in his starts in 2022. 

Gray has allowed just two earned runs over his last two starts (11.0 IP). As for head-to-head stats, this vaunted Toronto lineup is 12-49 (.245) against him with six extra-base hits. George Springer is 5-19 (.263), Matt Chapman is 2-4 (.500) with a home run, and he hasn’t faced Vladdy Jr. yet in his career. Considering his recent form, I expect Gray to be competitive and vie for a scoreless first inning. On the flip side, the Twins are 4-14 (.286) against Manoah, with Luis Arraez at 1-3 (.333), Byron Buxton at 1-2 (.500), and Jorge Polanco at 1-3 (.333). Both of these guys are going to have their work cut out for them tonight, but they’ve proven to be some of the better starters in baseball this year. I like to take a shot with NRFI in Minneapolis tonight. 

Bet: Blue Jays at Twins NRFI (-120 via DraftKings)


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