Shota Imanaga's NL Rookie of the Year Odds Move to Plus Money While Paul Skenes Remains Second

A shakeup in the odds for NL Rookie of the Year allows bettors to find value
May 29, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (18) pitches in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
May 29, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (18) pitches in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In a stark departure from his usual form, Chicago Cubs rookie pitcher Shota Imanaga allowed seven earned runs to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday and struck out only one across 4 ⅓ innings. It was the first time the lefty allowed more than three runs in a start this season and his ERA "ballooned" to 1.96 as a result.   

That could be good for bettors.

Entering Wednesday's game, Imanaga was the odds-on favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year award at -125, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Thursday morning, his odds were +105. 

Imanaga has been the heavy favorite for the award for some time now, and this move to plus money could be a chance to grab some value on the rookie.

More importantly, this uncharacteristic start highlights the volatility of backing pitchers for the award.

Pittsburgh Pirates phenom Paul Skenes has the next-best odds for the award at +210 at DraftKings. Olivia Dunne's boyfriend has been lighting up the gun with a fastball that averages 99.3 mph and a max velocity of 102 MPH. He has a 2.25 ERA and a 21-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 16 innings pitched in three starts.

While the velocity is impressive, there is risk to backing Skenes. Not only could his pitching style potentially be more conducive to injury, like a player he's compared to, former Cy Young award winner Stephen Strasberg whose rookie season was cut short for Tommy John surgery, Skenes plays for a team that is not expected to win many games. Skenes could be a generational talent, but I will wait to pull this ticket until there's better value. 

Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yoshinobu Yamamoto has the next-best odds at +650, followed by another Pittsburgh starter, Jared  Jones, at +1300.

Milwaukee Brewers third-baseman Joey Ortiz has the shortest odds among hitters at +1500, well ahead of teammate Jackson Chourio (+5000), who entered the season as a favorite. 

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800-GAMBLER.


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Jennifer Piacenti

JENNIFER PIACENTI

In addition to being a fantasy sports and betting analyst at Sports Illustrated, Jennifer is a radio host for Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, and she hosts her own podcast, “Waiver Wired” on the Extra Points podcast network. Jennifer has been nominated for multiple FSWA awards for her NFL DFS video series. She’s a Scott Fish Bowl Finalist, and she finished third overall in the 2021 NFFC post-season mini. Jennifer is also a featured expert on MLB Network’s “Bettor’s Eye,” and a member of the esteemed Tout Wars, the fantasy baseball battle of the experts.