MLB picks Saturday 9/30: YRFI & NRFI best bets today: Michael Wacha and Mike Clevinger star in Chicago

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Michael Wacha (52) reacts after the last out of the top of the sixth inning was recorded against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park.
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Lead MLB Writer for Pickswise. A Bostonian with a love for stats and baseball. Using knowledge and passion to find the right bet in MLB, NBA, NFL, and more. A lover of bold sports takes and sweat-free plus-odds picks. For Keith Schmelter media enquiries, please email

If you aren’t interested in a bet that will take 9 innings, one of the shortest-lasting bets you can make in an MLB game is if a run will be scored in the first inning. All it takes is 6 outs to glory, and one swing of the bat can make or break your bet.

There is also a lot of value in these bets because the odds are usually very well-priced, and if you’re not a fan of sweating out your bets for 3 hours then this one will take only about 15 minutes to win or lose. But before we dive in, don’t forget to check out our MLB picks for every game on Saturday.

San Diego Padres vs Chicago White Sox: NRFI (-113)

Available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing.

It might seem surprising, but Mike Clevinger has been the best pitcher on the White Sox in the last few months. Following a 3.88 ERA in the first half of the season, Clevinger has been fantastic since the All-Star break with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. The veteran has surrendered no more than 2 earned runs in 8 of his 11 outings since the break, and his advanced metrics indicate his success is no fluke. During those 11 starts, Clevinger has limited hitters to a .227 batting average with a .224 xBA along with a 34% hard-hit rate. But more importantly for this bet, he’s thrown a scoreless first inning in 9 of his 11 starts in the second half of the season. It’s not too surprising to see this improvement since Clevinger is playing for a better contract next season, and this will be his last opportunity to showcase his talents.

Michael Wacha made an excellent first impression on the San Diego faithful in the first half of the season with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. However, Wacha was sidelined for over a month with a shoulder injury, and he hasn’t been as sharp since coming back. But digging deeper into his stats, Wacha has still been excellent in the first frame. He owns a 3.52 ERA with a 24% strikeout rate in the opening inning this season through 23 starts. Pitching should be the star of the show on Saturday, and it should start with a scoreless first inning.

Washington Nationals vs Atlanta Braves: NRFI (-111)

Available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing.

The most profitable YRFI team in baseball this season has been the Atlanta Braves, but even then, the Braves are scoring in the first inning just 40% of the time. That clearly means they are held without a run in the first inning 60% of the time, so I’ll take my chances of that happening today. Plus, Spencer Strider is pitching for the Braves. Strider was in the talks for the NL Cy Young award for the majority of the season, but a 4.32 ERA since the All-Star break has knocked him down the list. However, his success in the first inning has stayed the same. Strider has limited hitters to a .188 batting average with a .266 on-base percentage in the first inning this season. The long ball has been his demise this year, but fortunately for the mustached flame-thrower, the Nationals don’t have a lot of power at the top of their order.

Toeing the rubber for the Nationals will be Joan Adon, a 25-year-old in his third season in the big leagues. Adon hasn’t been the best this season with an ERA above 6, but it’s important to look at what he’s done recently. His most recent start came against the Brave and he allowed 4 runs and 5 hits in 4.2 innings. But have no fear! He threw a scoreless first inning in that outing which marked 3 straight starts of not allowing a first-inning run. If he can avoid an extra-base hit, I like his chances of throwing a fourth scoreless first inning in a row.

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