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Is Paul Skenes Worth Betting to Go Over 144½ Strikeouts in 2024?

There hasn’t been as much hype surrounding a young MLB pitcher as there is around Pirates righty Paul Skenes. Stephen Strasburg was the last guy I remember commanding this type of attention so early.

So far, the hype was warranted, as Skenes is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 21 strikeouts in his first three starts. His peripherals are solid, but his strikeout total is really intriguing. The guy made a career of embarrassing minor-league hitters, and so far, he’s doing the same at the MLB level.

Is Paul Skenes Worth Betting to Go Over 144½ Strikeouts in 2024?
Paul Skenes #30 of the Pittsburgh Pirates - Justin Berl/Getty Images

BetUS sportsbook has a prop on Skenes to go Over or Under 144.5 strikeouts this season, and I wanted to break down his results so far and make a pick on this exciting player prop.

 

Skenes Striking Out Guys Like It’s His Job

Technically, Skenes’ 16 innings pitched don’t qualify him to be counted among the league leaders in any pitching category. But, if we overlook his late start and crunch his K/9 ratio, the phenomenon would rank third in the MLB with an 11.8 K/9 ratio. Only Jack Flaherty (12) and Garrett Crochet (12) have a higher average.

He’s also making history. Skenes fanned the first seven batters in his second game in the Majors. Let us not forget that Skenes isn’t just a rookie. He’s a young rookie. He was No. 1 drafted less than a calendar year ago and became the first player in that situation to throw six or more scoreless innings since Davicy Clyde.

 

Skenes is a rarity in the baseball world. He’s the first player since 1900 to hurl six or more innings with 10+ strikeouts and zero hits allowed in his first or second career start. Some Hall of Fame pitchers have never managed that feat, and this guy does it on his second day at work.

 

How is He Dominating? 

Skenes’ most significant asset is his ability to pitch in triple digits seemingly all day. For example, when he was pulled during a no-hitter in his second career start, he exited after his 100th pitch of the game. The pitch that put him over the century mark clocked in at 100 mph.

In 2024, Skenes’ average fastball clocks in at a blistering 99.7 mph. That’s not just fast; that’s “Did I just see a comet?” fast. It’s 1.4 mph faster than any other starting pitcher in the league. For those keeping score at home, that’s like beating Usain Bolt in a sprint by a car’s length.

And it’s not just the starters who are eating Skenes’ dust. He still holds his own even when you stack him against the bullpen flamethrowers. His average fastball speed ranks third among all players, with at least 50 fastballs. Imagine being a reliever specializing in gas, and then here comes Skenes, casually outpacing you as a starter.

 

 

Is Skenes a Good Bet to Go Over 144½ Regular Season Strikeouts? 

The question isn’t whether Skenes can go Over 144.5 strikeouts with his remaining starts. Because you bet your ass Skenes can, and then some. For me, the real conundrum is his usage as a rookie and his future health. Skenes is a proven workhorse, but even the best need to be reshod occasionally.

Because so many external factors work against him, I would be leery of betting on this prop to go Over. It’s not a matter of skill but instead of ownership and management. As we saw in his second game, the Pirates have him on a strict pitch count and are more than willing to break up a no-hitter to keep him safe.

Because the Pirates are clearly putting his health and longevity first, I can’t recommend betting on him exceeding his season strikeout total. There is no telling exactly how short his leash is or how bad the Pirates’ season needs to go before he potentially gets shut down.

But judging from how things are going in the MLB, Skenes’ long-term outlook is a bit more bleak from an online betting perspective. With his speed and power, I think a bet on him to land on a Tommy John surgery schedule is likely. I hope I’m wrong, but the stats show that guys who throw this hard, this often, are a high risk.

 

 

Questions Of The Day

What were Skenes’ numbers in the minors?


Skenes was 0-0 with a 0.99 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 27 ⅓ innings pitched.

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