Three Key Adjustments for Pirates' Paul Skenes Post-Debut

Paul Skenes' MLB debut sparks crucial adjustments

by Abdullah Magsi
Three Key Adjustments for Pirates' Paul Skenes Post-Debut
© Justin Berl/Getty Images

In his inaugural Major League Baseball appearance, Pittsburgh Pirates’ rookie pitcher Paul Skenes showcased promising potential against the Chicago Cubs, despite experiencing a mixed performance. The young right-hander's debut was highlighted by his dynamic pitch delivery, which caused the Cubs' hitters to have a few awkward swings and misses.

Nevertheless, Skenes' outing was not without its challenges, as he surrendered three runs across four innings, punctuated by a solo home run, culminating in a 6.75 ERA. While Skenes demonstrated the ability to execute some spectacular pitches, consistency remains key.

Several of his throws, particularly with his powerful four-seam fastball, missed the strike zone significantly. This was most noticeable with two strikes and on 0-1 counts, where Skenes seemed intent on enticing batters to chase outside pitches.

While edging the corners can be an effective strategy when ahead, it requires a more polished approach to be successful in the majors.

Refining Skenes' Strategy

Despite reaching favorable counts of 0-2 and 1-2, Skenes often struggled to finalize at-bats, allowing hitters to extend their plate appearances.

This inefficiency not only inflated his pitch count but also put additional stress on himself and, subsequently, the bullpen. To overcome this, Skenes could benefit from working closely with Pirates’ pitching coach Oscar Marin and tapping into the experience of seasoned pitchers on the team.

Enhancing his strategy to integrate his formidable breaking balls with his fastball could prove pivotal. Although it’s early in his career, increasing his endurance to handle more innings per game is essential for Skenes.

His recent minor league performance, where he managed six innings on 75 pitches, shows potential. However, the 84 pitches he threw in his MLB debut, the highest in his professional career, indicate a need for greater efficiency.

Over time, aiming for 100+ pitches per outing should become a feasible goal, helping to preserve the bullpen, and establishing him as a reliable starter. Paul Skenes stands at the threshold of what could be a significant MLB career.

With targeted adjustments and a focus on refining his pitching technique, he can transform initial setbacks into a strong foundation for future success. As he gears up for another showdown with the Cubs, all eyes will be on this promising pitcher to see how he adapts and evolves from his debut experience.