Paul Skenes Betting: How Many Regular Season Strikeouts Will Skenes Reach?

Riley Thomas
Riley Thomas_riley8
Paul Skenes Betting: How Many Regular Season Strikeouts Will Skenes Reach?

Paul Skenes made his major league debut with loads of hype. It was beyond being the No. 1 pick in the 2023 MLB Draft -- Skenes was being advertised as one of the best pitching prospects over the last decade.

He's more than lived up to it.

Following five starts in MLB, the Pittsburgh Pirates' rookie has a 3.00 ERA, 2.27 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA), and 1.00 WHIP. He's pitching at an All-Star level, and it's come against even the best of competition.

In his fifth start on June 5th against the Los Angeles Dodgers -- who own the shortest World Series odds (+270) at FanDuel Sportsbook -- Skenes totaled eight strikeouts in five innings of work. He even had his way with one of the league's most dangerous players, striking out Shohei Ohtani with a fastball eclipsing 100 miles per hour (MPH).

While it is a small sample size, Skenes has been dealing at an ace's level. His strikeout numbers have been unreal as one of the game's hardest throwing hurlers.

FanDuel's MLB player specials odds are offering lines dedicated to Skenes' strikeout total for the regular season. Let's look at the available odds. Which K total could be the best bet?

Paul Skenes Betting Odds

Paul Skenes Regular Season Strikeouts 2024
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds
150+ Strikeouts+100
175+ Strikeouts+250
200+ Strikeouts+800

Paul Skenes to Reach +150 Strikeouts (+100)

Before we dive into each line, let's take some time to grasp how good Skenes' strikeout numbers have been. The rookie has a 35.5% strikeout percentage (K%) -- which sits in the 98th percentile -- and a 32.5% whiff rate (91st percentile), per Savant.

Among starters who have pitched for at least 20 innings, Skenes leads the league with his 35.5 K%. For reference, this is two percentage points better than the Dodgers' Tyler Glasnow, who is one of the National League Cy Young favorites, listed at +600 NL Cy Young odds. His strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) is just as good with 12.67 -- third among starters who have pitched for at least 20 innings.

Few pitchers -- if any -- are dealing at the rate of Skenes. With that said, how many strikeouts could he total during his rookie campaign?

FanDuel's first line available is 150+ strikeouts. Through five starts, Skenes is logging 7.6 strikeouts per start. Pittsburgh is 61 games into the 2024 season, leaving 101 games remaining.

Skenes is making a start about every 4.6 games. If we use this average for the remaining 101 games, this leaves Skenes with about 22 upcoming starts.

Of course, this is assuming that Skenes stays healthy. We can't overlook the fact that Skenes is consistently throwing over 100 MPH, which may increase his risk for injury. He throws a four-seam fastball 41.4% of the time, and his average velocity is 99.4 MPH for this pitch.

If Skenes makes just 20 more starts with his average of 7.6 Ks each outing, this is 152 strikeouts in just those remaining starts. Add this to his current total of 38, and it comes to 190 strikeouts for the season.

There's also a chance the Pirates proactively rest Skenes and skip a start or two in an effort not to overwork their star rookie. The Steamer projections at FanGraphs seem to be accounting for that.

Steamer is more conservative with Skenes' workload and projects him for just 15 more starts. In those 15 starts, they have him punching out 116. When added to his current K total of 38, that comes to 154 strikeouts on the season, so even with a projection factoring in a reduced workload, Skenes still gets to 150-plus strikeouts.

As long as Skenes stays healthy, reaching 150-plus strikeouts is well within reach, and the +100 odds are pretty enticing.

Paul Skenes to Reach +175 Strikeouts (+250)

Beyond 150 strikeouts is where things get tricky.

During the 2023 season, 31 pitchers reached 175 strikeouts. Only 2 of the 31 pitchers made fewer than 30 starts while accomplishing this feat: Kodai Senga and Joe Ryan. They had strikeout rates of 29.1% and 29.3%. If anyone can do it under 30 starts this year, it could be Skenes. His current strikeout percentage is well above the 30.0% mark.

During his time in the minors, Skenes was above a K% of 35.0% every step of the way. At Triple-A, he was carrying a stellar K rate of 42.9%.

Even if some struggles are ahead -- which is likely in a rookie season -- Skenes still stacks strikeouts. We saw this in his most recent start against the Dodgers and in his MLB debut. He has failed to reach the sixth inning in two of five starts, and in those two shorter appearances, he still totaled seven and eight strikeouts. Even in short starts, Skenes has still logged exceptional totals.

The biggest concern -- as we mentioned above -- is going to be workload. But if you think Steamer is too conservative and that Skenes makes closer to 20 more starts, he's capable to getting to 175 punchouts this season.

Paul Skenes to Reach +200 Strikeouts (+800)

This is where we get into long shot territory.

Last season, only 17 pitchers were able to reach the 200-mark. Senga had the fewest starts with 29 appearances. Will Skenes pitch on this level for the entire season? Probably not.

We should also consider that Skenes may simply not get enough starts under his belt for 200 strikeouts. As mentioned, if he stays at his average of making a start every 4.6 games, he has about 22 starts remaining. He would need about 7.4 Ks per start over the 22 appearances to reach 200. But in all likelihood, Pittsburgh is going to be very careful with its prized ace.

For Skenes to get to 200 strikeouts, it would have to be a near-perfect scenario. Skenes would need to avoid injuries, not have starts skipped and stay exactly on schedule. His strikeout average cannot afford to dip much, either. All in all, there's a reason it's listed at +800.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.