MLB Expert Picks Today, 4/14: NRFI & YRFI best bets Sunday: Pitchers start fast in Los Angeles

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
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Caleb Wilfinger


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Deputy Editor for Pickswise with years of experience handicapping and giving out winning picks. Lover of all US sports and Southampton FC. For Caleb Wilfinger media enquiries, please email
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After an eventful offseason that featured plenty of moves that shook up the sport, the MLB regular season has started off with a bang. And while there are plenty of ways to wager on all of the action on the diamond this season, one of the quickest bets you can make is if a run will be scored in the first inning. There is still value to be had in this market, so it’s no wonder that these bets have become very popular over time. If you don’t like sweating out your wagers for 3 hours, this one will take only about 15 minutes.

I ended last season on a 42-23 run with my YRFI/NRFI plays so let’s keep that momentum going for the 2024 season! But before we dive in, don’t forget to check out our MLB picks for all of today’s games on the diamond.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres: NRFI (-105)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to -115.

Much has already been made of the elite trio at the top of the Dodgers lineup, and while I typically have backed the YRFI in Dodger games this season, I’ll be rolling with the NRFI for Sunday’s contest against the Padres. On one hand, Mookie Betts has been tremendous this season, and his spot in the order being followed by Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman certainly doesn’t help opposing pitchers. However, San Diego’s starter isn’t just an ordinary starter.

The Padres will send Yu Darvish to the mound in this one, a pitcher who is very familiar with this Dodgers lineup and has excelled against this group in the recent past. Darvish’s advanced numbers are a cause for concern through his first couple of outings, including exit velocity and hard hit rate marks that put him in the bottom 7 percentile of all qualified pitchers thus far. However, he has terrific career numbers against Betts and Will Smith, plus he’s only faced Ohtani twice in his career, so that unfamiliarity could be to his advantage. Ultimately, I trust Darvish to start off strong and if he does struggle, it’ll come in the middle innings.

Darvish will be opposed by James Paxton, who has gotten off a strong start this season (1.64 ERA, 1.18 WHIP). As long as he doesn’t run into trouble via the walk (13.3% walk rate in 2024), the Dodgers left-hander should see success against a Padres lineup that is only hitting .220 with an OBP of .317 against lefties to this point in the season. Those numbers get worse away from home, so even with a small sample size, I’m comfortable in backing Paxton at home. These are a pair of teams with big names at the top of the order, so let’s fade that narrative in the first inning of this NL West matchup.

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