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  • Writer's pictureWyatt Bose

Pittstop for Gas in the Burgh: Lighting the radar gun w/ Skenes and Jones

Two rookies. Two 100mph+ fastballs. One pitching staff.

Paul Skenes rocks the ‘stache. Jared Jones sports the mullet. They both throw gas.

Skenes and Jones are the best story in baseball right now, and they're mowing down hitters like a hot knife through butter. In four starts, Skenes is 2-0 with 30 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA through 22 innings pitched. In 12 starts, Jones is 4-5 with 76 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA through 69.1 innings pitched.

According to Statcast powered by Google Cloud, the ten fastest pitches thrown by starting pitchers this season were all thrown by either Skenes or Jones. Skenes holds the #1 spot with a 101.9 mph pitch, and Jones is #2 with a 101.4 mph pitch. Skenes holds seven of the top 10 spots.

In his second big league start, Skenes threw six no-hit innings against the Chicago Cubs before being pulled for precautionary pitch count reasons. Skenes threw 100 pitches and struck out 11 hitters. 

Jones, a less publicized but just as capable counterpart to Skenes, has been dominant in his own right. He isn’t a 6’6,” 235lb moose like Skenes, but he holds his own and pumps triple digits on the gun. Despite his low ERA, Jones has a 4-5 record because he gets no run support. In Jones’ 12 starts, Pittsburgh’s offense averages 2.75 runs per game. By contrast, the Buccos average 8.75 runs per game in Skenes’ four starts. 

For whatever reason, the bats are hot for Skenes but cold for Jones.

In his last start on June 4, Jones carved up a star-studded Dodgers’ lineup, headlined by former MVPs Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, and Freddie Freeman. Jones pitched six scoreless innings with six strikeouts, and the Pirates won the game 1-0. Once again, the bats were cold.

Tonight, Skenes takes the bump against that same Dodgers lineup at 3:40pm PT. 

*Writer's note: Skenes struck out Shohei Ohtani on three straight 100+mph fastballs in the 1st inning. He also struck out Mookie Betts in the 1st.

Skenes and Jones make a great duo, but Skenes is the star in Pittsburgh. Here’s why:

Aura: Skenes, a 6’6,” 235lb moose, warms up to “Cue Country Roads” and pumps 100mph heaters before the game even starts. His stature is intimidating from the batter’s box, and that’s before you see his out-pitch.

Arsenal: His pitch arsenal is ridiculous. Hitters have to prepare for his 100mph fastball, but Skenes also throws a 94.4 mph splitter, an 85.2 mph slider, an 87.6 mph changeup, and an 80.8 mph curveball, according to Statcast. He calls his 94.4 mph splitter a “splinker,” because it breaks like a splitter but has the velocity of a sinker. Jhoan Duran, another known “splinker” enthusiast, throws his splinker at 97 mph with considerable depth and deception. Needless to say, the splinker is gross.

Average? Beyond his inimitable ability to throw a baseball, Skenes is just like everyone else off the field, which is perhaps why fans are so fond of him. Skenes talked about his hobbies away from baseball, sharing that he just naps and goes to the ballpark. In fact, he slept through three missed calls from his minor league manager, who was trying to deliver the news that he had been called up to the Show!

Ultimately, Skenes and Jones have bright futures in Pittsburgh, and hopefully the Pirates learn from their past mistakes with Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow. When it’s time, the Buccos should do right by these young flamethrowers, pay them, and keep the home-grown talent in Pittsburgh.

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