Paul Skenes Scheduled to Make Highly Anticipated Major League Debut

Paul Skenes

Getty Images Paul Skenes

The wait in the Steele City is over. The Pittsburgh Pirates have finally made the move to bring their highly touted prospect, Paul Skenes, to the Major Leagues. Standing at an imposing 6’6” and weighing 235 pounds, Skenes epitomizes the image of a power-armed ace on the mound. Widely acclaimed as one of the premier pitching talents in baseball, he was Pittsburgh’s top selection in last year’s draft.

Skenes features a dominant fastball with a velocity routinely sitting in the triple-digit range. He complements that with a sharp big-league-level sweeping slider and a pitch dubbed a “splinker,” a hybrid between a sinker and splitter that sits in the mid-90s and runs in on righties and away from lefties.

Skenes built his reputation in college over the last few years, showcasing his dominance with a remarkable 2.18 ERA and an eye-popping strikeout rate of over 36% throughout his collegiate career. His journey began at the Air Force Academy. It continued after a transfer to Louisiana State University, where he played a pivotal role in guiding the Tigers to a national championship. In his final season, Skenes boasted an astounding 1.69 ERA across 122 innings, striking out 45% of batters faced.

The Pirates Have Stuck to Their Plan With Skenes

While Paul Skenes’ statistics may suggest he’s been ready for the big leagues for some time, his journey to MLB readiness has been carefully managed. Pirates general manager Ben Cherington and skipper Derek Shelton have been vocal about the plan to stretch out Skenes’ pitch count properly. Despite making seven starts, he’s been limited to less than four innings per outing. He hasn’t exceeded 75 pitches in a game, with his pitch count only surpassing 65 in late April.

This cautious approach serves a purpose. The Pirates have been methodically stretching out Skenes, gradually increasing his workload while prioritizing his long-term health. Developing his stamina is crucial for his success at the major league level, and the team is keen on achieving this without risking injury.

Although his most recent Triple-A start wasn’t his finest, Skenes showcased his potential in the previous outing. Against the Buffalo Bisons on April 30, he delivered a stellar performance, allowing zero runs on four hits across a season-high six innings while tallying seven strikeouts and issuing just one walk.

The Future Is Arriving in Pittsburgh

The Pirates currently sit in fourth place in the NL Central, five full games behind the division-leading Brewers and Cubs. But the Pirates are constructing one of the most exciting young pitching staffs in major league baseball. The Pirates’ rotation is anchored by Mitch Keller, whose contract was extended this spring, and rookie Jared Jones.

Skenes’ arrival in the Pirates’ rotation coincides with the emergence of fellow rookie RHP Jared Jones, who appears poised to establish himself as a top-tier arm. At just 22 years old, Jones was already a top-100 prospect heading into the season. His performance thus far has been stellar, boasting a 2.63 ERA, a striking 33.8% strikeout rate, and an impressive 3.2% walk rate across 41 innings pitched.

With the addition of Skenes, this trio has the potential to form the core of the Pirates’ rotation for the foreseeable future in Pittsburgh. Skenes is slated to make his highly anticipated MLB debut on May 11 when the Pirates play host to the Chicago Cubs.

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