Paul Skenes Debut: How Many Strikeouts Will Skenes Rack Up on Saturday?

Riley Thomas
Riley Thomas_riley8
Paul Skenes Debut: How Many Strikeouts Will Skenes Rack Up on Saturday?

Following a 9-2 start, the Pittsburgh Pirates quickly declined with an 8-19 record over their previous 27 games. The Pirates now sit with a 17-21 record, but fortunately for them, reinforcements are on the way.

Pittsburgh's top prospect -- Paul Skenes, the No. 1 pick from the 2023 MLB Draft -- will make his MLB debut on Saturday. Skenes has dominated at the Triple-A level, holding a 0.99 ERA through seven starts. There are sky-high expectations for Skenes. Will he live up to them in his debut?

FanDuel Sportsbook's MLB odds have a special section dedicated to Paul Skenes betting, including a strikeout prop for his debut. Let's look at his K prop for Saturday. Will he go under or over?

Paul Skenes Debut

Paul Skenes Over 6.5 Strikeouts (-108)

Skenes' strikeout prop opened at 5.5 and has since moved to 6.5. Even with the spike, I'm still comfortable with backing the over.

The tricky part of this line is figuring out how long Skenes will pitch. The Pirates have been very careful with their talented young pitchers, limiting their pitch counts in the minors. Skenes did not reach 80 pitches over any of his seven starts in Triple-A. The same strategy was used with Jared Jones, who is thriving this season in the bigs with a 2.30 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) while ranking in the 95th percentile of strikeout rate (K%), per Baseball Savant.

The No. 1 pick in last summer's MLB Draft, Skenes has the ability to match -- or surpass -- what Jones is doing. Skenes' workload has steadily ramped up, as well. Over Skenes' first three starts in Triple-A, he averaged 48.3 pitchers per start. This number has jumped to 69.3 pitches per outing over his last four appearances.

There isn't much doubt about Skenes' performance in Triple-A. He absolutely dominated, carrying an absurd 42.9 K% and 14.82 K/9. If this production stays remotely close, Skenes could easily eclipse his season-long mark of 104.5 strikeouts (-120 on the over).

He's consistently dealing heat -- with his fastballs reaching 100 miles per hour (MPH) -- paired with a nasty slider. This is one of the most anticipated debuts in years. Take a look at some of his stuff:

Let's take a minute to put these absurd numbers into context. The current MLB leader of K/9 is held by Jack Flaherty at 12.00. Jones -- the Pirates' thriving rookie hurler -- leads baseball with a 33.8 K%. Both of Skenes' marks are far beyond the league leaders.

Of course, these numbers will likely come down quite a bit as Skenes accumulated those clips in the minors. Still, his talent demands attention, hence the special betting markets dedicated to the rookie pitcher.

Skenes is getting a favorable matchup against the Chicago Cubs for his debut. Chicago is tied for the 10th-highest K rate. As previously mentioned, Skenes has a great fastball-slider combo. The Cubs have the fifth-lowest runs above average against fastballs and are in the bottom half of the category when facing sliders.

The pitch count for Skenes is somewhat concerning, but the strategy has worked beautifully for Pittsburgh's Jones. I expect more of the same for Skenes -- one of the MLB's most talented prospects in recent memory. It could be bad news for the Bears -- aka Cubs -- with Skenes on the mound. Give me over 6.5 strikeouts.

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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.