Paul Skenes Should Be in National League Cy Young Conversation This Year |

Paul Skenes Should Be in National League Cy Young Conversation This Year |

Someone on X was posting MLB teams’ all-time lineups this spring. When discussing the Pittsburgh Pirates, he listed the starting nine and said, “Bad day to be a baseball.”

Sure would be. 

Picture being a pitcher and facing the likes of Bonds, Clemente, Kiner, Stargell, Parker and Honus Wagner. Imagine the scouting report: “Throw your best fastball, and if anyone’s on base, go back up third.” Put that team in Coors Field, and they might not make an out.

But as fearsome as an all-time Pittsburgh lineup is, an all-time Pirates’ pitching staff is not. It’s got names like Gerrit Cole, John Candelaria and even Dock Ellis, the only man to ever toss a no-hitter while using LSD. However, you’d have to be on some mighty powerful drugs to compare those names to the ones who have donned Dodger or Yankee uniforms.

Which brings us to the case of young Paul Skenes, who, 59 1/3 innings into his MLB career, has already started to make his case to be the best pitcher to ever wear a Pittsburgh uniform.

All he’s done in his first 10 starts is go 5-0 with a 2.12 earned run average while whiffing 78 batters and walking 12. That’s good enough to get him into the All-Star Game next week, and if National League manager Torey Lovullo has half a brain, he’ll start Skenes just so we can see him pitch to Aaron Judge.

Once we get that bit of theater out of the way, the last 60-something games of the season await. And while it might seem preposterous to some to ask this question, it can’t be ignored: Can Skenes win the NL Cy Young?

The quick answer is: Why the hell not?

The main contenders basically come from Atlanta and Philadelphia. You have the Braves’ Reynaldo Lopez and the Phillies’ Ranger Suarez enjoying the outlier seasons of their lives, while Atlanta’s Chris Sale has turned back the clock to his White Sox days to be the guy no one wants to face.

Kind of like Skenes, in other words. There’s the 102 mph fastball and complementary pitches, including the splinker—a combination splitter-sinker that comes in around 95 mph—that can make the best hitters look foolish.

“There’s a different atmosphere in the park when he pitches,” said Pirates manager Derek Shelton.

Those who follow the club said Skenes didn’t have his Grade A stuff Friday night against the Mets. Didn’t matter. Still went seven innings, still fanned eight, and won. He could easily be 7-0, except the bullpen biffed a couple of wins away.

The biggest impediment for Skenes might be his ballclub. 

Every time Pittsburgh takes two steps forward, it reflexively takes three back, operating from the same script it’s used for most of the last 30 years. The Pirates enter their series in Milwaukee at 43-47, four games behind San Diego for the final NL wild card spot.

Let’s pretend for a moment that Pittsburgh quits peeing down its pants leg in the last 72 games, that Skenes winds up 12-0, 13-1 with the same type of ERA and WHIP numbers he has now.

Maybe that’s good enough to get the Pirates into the postseason, and if you really want to project, you want to tell me a team that can start Skenes, Mitch Keller and Jared Jones in any postseason series is an underdog? And we just might have to give Skenes a Cy Young.

While you’re at it, clear out a spot for him in the franchise’s all-time starting rotation.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.