First inning betting is an option that most MLB bettors don’t know about.
In case you’re one of those bettors, practically any sportsbook offers first inning betting lines on every game, in addition to the full game lines and first 5 inning lines. You can bet Over/Under for the first inning, which team will win it, or simply whether there will be any runs scored in the first inning or not.
Here’s an example of first inning betting lines from Pinnacle.com.
Where you can get an edge on these types of bets is when you identify pitchers who tend to get knocked around in their first inning of work. Some starting pitchers can find it difficult to adjust to the game mound after warming up in the bullpen and are at their most vulnerable in the opening frame of the game.
Even better is when you find big-name pitchers who struggle in the first. The betting lines are based on their overall statistics, so they’ll probably be favoured to win the first inning even if they typically get roughed up a bit in them.
Here are 3 pitchers who usually draw the favourite tag but are worth looking to fade in the first inning.
1. Marco Estrada
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 13, 2017
Estrada’s been a very good pitcher for the Blue Jays the past few seasons, even ranking among the American League’s ERA leaders in both 2015 and 2016.
He’s off to a tough start this season, however, and bad first innings are a big reason why. Through his first 14 starts of the year, Estrada was allowing opponents to hit .333 with a .567 slugging percentage, including 8 doubles.
An article on JaysJournal.com suggested that Estrada may be having difficulty getting a feel for his bread-and-butter pitch, his changeup, til later in ballgames.
Whatever the reason, it’s a wise idea to look to fade Estrada and the Blue Jays in first innings until he gets things figured out.
2. Jake Arrieta
Hit and 2 BB for Arrieta here in the first. Bases loaded. Has a 8.18 first inning ERA this season.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) June 7, 2017
Arrieta continues to demand huge moneyline prices despite his mediocre 2017. In 4 of his last 5 starts before this article was written in mid-June, the Cubs were -200 favourites or higher.
That creates some huge value on the first inning lines, considering how bad Arrieta has been in opening frames. His 7.62 ERA in the first inning is the 18th-most among all starting pitchers in MLB (minimum of 10 starts), and he’s allowed opposing hitters to bat .309 with a .941 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
In a June 7 start against the Marlins, Arrieta allowed 3 base runners and 1 run in the first inning, then went on to set down the next 16 hitters in order on his way to a easy 10-2 victory. He’s clearly not at his best to start games, and a perfect fade because of that.
3. Michael Pineda
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) May 12, 2016
If you don’t consider Pineda a big name pitcher, you must not be paying that much attention to baseball this year. The enigmatic Yankees hurler has finally put things together in 2017, going 7-3 with a 3.39 ERA in his first 12 starts and averaging nearly 10 strikeouts per 9 innings.
Those numbers would be even better if it weren’t for the first inning. Pineda’s been dreadful in those frames, thanks mostly to the long ball (6 homers allowed in 12 innings). The .660 slugging percentage he’s allowed in first innings is nearly double of what he’s allowed in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th.
Pineda isn’t drawing huge prices yet when he starts (look for that to happen if he and the Yankees continue their strong play) but he’s almost always favoured. You should be able to get an underdog price against him on the first inning lines, and should definitely pounce if he’s facing a lineup that thrives on the home run ball.