Paul Skenes had to work his way up, but now that he’s in the big leagues, he’s making a notable impact. The former LSU flamethrower and No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft is now a popular bet to win NL Rookie of the Year.

It has been just over a month since the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that they were promoting Skenes to the big leagues. At that time, the Pirates had a 17-21 record. They’re now 31-34, with Skenes yet to take a loss (3-0).

Skenes has made 5 starts so far, with No. 6 coming Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals. So far, he has logged 27 IP, allowing 21 hits including 4 home runs for 9 earned runs. Skenes has a 1.00 WHIP with opponents hitting .212 as 67% of his pitches have gone for strikes.

With those numbers, Skenes is making noise in the NL Rookie of the Year race. In data shared with Saturday Down South, Skenes is dominating the NL ROTY betting market at BetMGM.

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Skenes opened with +1300 odds. Those who took an early chance on the rookie could turn a $100 wager into $1400 with a payout of $1300 if the former Tiger wins ROTY. He’s currently at +300 odds, meaning a $100 bet could win $300 for a $400 payout.

At BetMGM, Skenes has the highest number of bets (tickets) and the most money wagered on him (handle). Here’s a look at the numbers:

NL Rookie of the Year bets at BetMGM
  • Highest Ticket%: Paul Skenes 20.1%
  • Highest Handle%: Paul Skenes 23.1%
  • Biggest Liability: Paul Skenes

While Skenes is BetMGM’s biggest liability, he’s not the favorite at the sportsbook. Chicago Cubs pitcher Shota Imanaga is the favorite with odds of +140.

Imanaga is 30 and, while an MLB rookie, has 8 seasons of professional experience playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball league, the highest level in Japan.

With the Cubs, Imanaga has pitched 69 innings, posting a 6-1 record with a 1.96 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. He has allowed 21 runs (15 earned) on 60 hits, including 7 home runs. Opposing batters are hitting .226 against Imanaga, striking out 72 times to 11 walks.

It will be interesting to see how voters weigh Imanaga’s combination of stats and professional experience against Skenes, who is a more authentic rookie in the professional sense.