YRFI and NRFI MLB Best Bets for Friday, August 18

By Jared Smith  (VSiN.com) 

August 18, 2023 11:40 AM

Best Bets on Today's MLB YRFI and NRFI Markets

I finished last week going 1-1 with Sunday’s best bets as we continue to gravitate right around the profitability mark for the season with seven weeks remaining. I’ve noticed a bit of a dropoff with early scoring over the past couple of weeks, as overall the NRFI is 121-102 (54.3%) so far this month. If that rate holds steady for the next two weeks, it would be the highest for any month all season. While this trend is noteworthy, it doesn’t change any fundamental part of my process, with each lineup and starting pitcher analyzed independently. 

Keep reading to find out my best bets for Friday, August 18th. I recommend two units for each. All odds are via DraftKings but be sure to shop around for the best line as prices vary dramatically in this market. 

Best Bets Season Record: 48-42 (53.3%) +0.34u +0.2% ROI

Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Guardians (Game 1)

Tarik Skubal is 6-1 to the NRFI since returning to the rotation last month. I recommended backing his NRFI last Friday at Fenway Park but an unearned run thanks to an error by Javier Baez led to our demise. Despite that early blemish, Skubal has some of the best underlying data on the board today including a 1.54 xFIP and 38.5% strikeout rate in the first inning. He also draws a Guardians lineup that is dead last in wRC+ vs. LHP this month with Jose Ramirez batting just .071 (1-for-14) in that span.

Gavin Williams has started 9-1 to the NRFI in his rookie campaign and is a perfect 6-0 at home. The underlying data looks strong with a 3.78 xFIP in the first inning. I also love his 85.6% Left on Base Percentage which is top-15 in the majors amongst qualifying pitchers. He draws the much easier side of this matchup against a Tigers lineup that has just an 18.3% scoring rate in the first inning on the road this season (11-for-61) which is the fourth-lowest in MLB.

I was able to find -120 in the market and would feel comfortable playing this up to -130 but not at the absurd -150 being offered by DraftKings at the time of publication. Shop around. 

Here’s how the starting pitchers have fared against the projected top of each lineup:

Tarik Skubal vs.:

Andres Gimenez (0-for-2)

Jose Ramirez (5-for-14, 2B, 3B, 2 Ks, BB)

Ramon Laureano (0-for-7, 2 Ks)


Gavin Williams vs.:

Akil Baddoo (never faced)

Riley Greene (never faced)

Matt Vierling (never faced)

Bet: No Run First Inning (-150)


Chicago White Sox at Colorado Rockies

Michael Kopech is 16-6 to the NRFI this season but just 6-4 on the road. The underlying data says he’s one of the worst pitchers on the board today with a 6.55 xFIP and 17.8% walk rate in the first inning this season. Lately, his stuff has been trending down with a 6.96 xFIP since July 1st. He’s also been brutal with his control walking 23 batters in just 24 innings during that span.

The Rockies lineup has been inexplicably bad at home this year with just a 24% scoring rate in the first inning (14-for-58) well below the MLB average for home teams which is 32%. That’s even more puzzling when you consider they play their home games at altitude. I expect Colorado’s rate to increase down the stretch now that Charlie Blackmon is back from his two-month absence thanks to a broken hand. Blackmon is 4-for-10 over the last three games since returning and will likely be leading off again tonight against Kopech in the bottom of the first.

Peter Lambert is 5-1 to the NRFI since being moved to the rotation last month. His underlying data is also subpar with a 5.95 xFIP in the first inning. Walks are also a concern as he’s issued six free passes in his last 14 innings pitched. Lambert is not a guy with electric stuff either, which makes his control problems even more of a concern. He ranks in the bottom quarter of the league in chase rate, whiff rate and hard hit percentage. The White Sox lineup has been poor in the first inning all season with just a 24.7% scoring rate, well below the league average of 29.4% but Luis Robert Jr. has been hot lately with a 1.248 OPS so far in the month of August. 

I was able to find -135 in the market at Caesars on Friday morning and would feel comfortable playing this up to -150 but not at the absurd -165 price being offered by DraftKings at the time of publication. Please shop around. 

Here’s how the starting pitchers have fared against the projected top of each lineup:

Michael Kopech vs.:

Charlie Blackmon (1-for-5, 2B, K)

Jurickson Profar (never faced)

Ryan McMahon (0-for-3, K, BB)


Peter Lambert vs.:

Elvis Andrus (never faced)

Andrew Benintendi (never faced)

Luis Robert Jr. (never faced)

Bet: Yes Run First Inning (-165)


VSiN MLB Links 

MLB Betting Splits

MLB Injury Report

MLB Team Power Ratings

MLB Odds

VSiN Daily Baseball Bets Podcast

back to news

Live On Air

Streaming Now: The Lombardi Line

play Watch Live radio Listen Live


The Lombardi LIne: With several high-profile CFB games this weekend, odds for the Heisman and other futures markets could shift drastically. If you have a strong opinion, bet it now to secure the best number. View more tips.

Frank Betti/Mattress Mack: Texas (-17) at Baylor. View more picks.