Friday night MLB picks give us a NRFI, a rare Astros underdog pick: Best Bets for June 30

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Houston Astros' Jeremy Pena, right, slides to score as Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim, left, waits for the throw on a sacrifice fly by Yanier Diaz during the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here is our best bet for Friday, June 30:

TOP PLAY

The play: MLB NRFI, no runs first inning Mariners vs. Rays

The odds/bet: +107

The book: DraftKings Sportsbook, using 50% odds boost

Time/TV: 10:10 p.m. (MLB.tv)

Our take: An increasingly popular way to bet baseball is the NRFI and YRFI line. For the uninitiated, that’s short for “No Runs First Inning” and “Yes Runs First Inning” — and you pronounce the acronym as if it’s a word, i.e., “Nurfee” and “Yurfee.”

It’s as simple as it sounds. A NRFI bet is simply that neither team will score in the first inning. A YRFI bet is that one of the teams will.

Typically, NRFIs hit just a bit more than YRFIs — about 52% of the time during this MLB season. But DraftKings is offering a boosted bet here that allows us to get plus money on the NRFI (with a bet limit of $25), and we’re going to take advantage.

The math backs it up. The Mariners have only scored in the first inning in six of their past 20 games, and the Rays only in five of their past 20 games. What’s more, strong starting pitching should push those percentages down even more. Shane McClanahan is a Cy Young candidate for Tampa Bay who sports an ERA just north of 2 and has only allowed first-inning runs in two of 16 starts this year. On the other side, rookie Bryce Miller has been almost as dominant, allowing first-inning runs in just two of 10 starts.

Two slumping offensive teams, two hot starting pitchers and an odds boost? Sounds like a great way to start your holiday weekend.

HOUSTON STARTS TO SOLVE ITS PROBLEM

The play: MLB money line, Astros over Rangers

The odds/bet: +146

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8:05 p.m. (MLB.tv)

Our take: Unlike the past several years (not counting the COVID-shortened 2020 season), the Houston Astros are receiving a run for their money in the AL West. The Texas Rangers have started hot and stayed that way for the most part, and they hold a 5-game lead in the division over the Astros, who have won the past five full-season AL West crowns, all by at least five games.

Houston, of course, is still one of the best teams in baseball, and they can use this four-game set in Arlington as a launching pad to put some pressure on Texas heading into the All-Star break. The Astros also have been rounding into form offensively, scoring at least six runs in five of their past seven games, including 24 runs the past two nights in St. Louis.

The Rangers have a tremendous offense of their own and the starting pitching edge with Jonathan Gray on the mound, but at +150 juice, it’s well worth a flyer on a proven champion that’s clearly heating up.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Thursday’s best bets

  • MLB total, Giants-Blue Jays OVER 9 (LOST)
  • MLB run line, Dodgers -1½ over Rockies (WON)

Thursday’s record: 1-1

Total for the week: 2-1, 1 pending

Total for June: 28-27, 1 pending

Total for 2023: 148-161, 1 pending

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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