MLB picks Sunday 5/28: YRFI & NRFI best bets today: The Cole train starts early

New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) delivers a pitch against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Yankee Stadium.
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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. Before we dive in, don’t forget to check out our MLB picks for every game on Sunday.

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San Diego Padres vs New York Yankees: NRFI (-120)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing.

The best pitching matchup of the day takes place in the Bronx between Yu Darvish and Gerrit Cole. The series has been low-scoring thus far, with 11 runs scored between the teams, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this series finale having the lowest total of all 3. Darvish will toe the rubber for the visitors for his 10th start of the season, and the veteran has been fantastic through 54 innings. He holds a 3.67 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP, and most of the damage against Darvish comes in the 2nd and 3rd times through the order. But in the first time through the lineup, Darvish has limited hitters to a .155 batting average with a 26.7% strikeout rate. The right-hander has not faced New York many times in his career, and Harrison Bader has the most at-bats against him on the Yankees, but he’s 0-for-10 against Darvish. Even the Captain has struggled against Darvish, going 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts.

Whenever Cole starts at home, it’s always good to see if there’s a way to back him. He holds a 2.09 ERA with a 1.023 WHIP in 7 starts at Yankee Stadium, and opponents are hitting just .185 with a .570 OPS against him. Cole will take on an always-dangerous Padres lineup that has power throughout their order, and he will have to be careful when facing Juan Soto since the lefty-hitter has had a lot of success against him. But if Cole can avoid letting Fernando Tatis Jr. on and keep Soto in the park, there’s a great chance for a scoreless start in New York.

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Boston Red Sox vs Arizona Diamondbacks: NRFI (-115)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing.

Merrill Kelly is having an incredible 2023 campaign. After posting a 3.45 ERA in April, Kelly has been even better this month with a 2.88 ERA in May. He’s allowed more than 2 earned runs just once in his last 5 starts, but more importantly, he’s been exceptional at the beginning of games. In the first inning, Kelly has limited hitters to a .177 batting average with a .263 on-base percentage. He’s also not known to be a strikeout pitcher, but he’s recorded a 32.4% punch-out rate in the first inning. The Arizona starter will face a Boston offense that has hit a slump recently and has not scored in the first frame in 8 straight games.

The Boston rotation has slowly improved over the last few weeks and one of the big reasons for that has been the performance of Tanner Houck, who has moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation this season. But his reliever tendencies have carried over to his starting role, and what I mean by that is opponents have a .116 batting average with a .355 OPS against Houck in their 1st at-bat, but it balloons to .356 with a .886 OPS during the 2nd time through the order. That can lead Houck into trouble in the 4th or 5th inning, but he has usually been dominant in the first frame. The right-hander has given up just 2 runs in the first inning while holding hitters to a .133 batting average, so between him and Kelly, I think we should reach the second inning without a run.

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Pickswise is the home of free MLB Picks. Check out the latest MLB Prop Bets and MLB Parlays as well as our MLB Best Bets from the experts.

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