Skenes allows first run at Triple-A level, still fans 7 over 4 1/3 IP

April 24th, 2024

Five starts and 14 1/3 scoreless innings into his 2024 campaign, allowed his first run of the year for Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday against Omaha.

The run marked the first blemish to his previously perfect ERA, but the rest of the outing, for the most part, was business as usual for MLB’s No. 3 prospect. Working into the fifth inning for the first time since turning pro, Skenes racked up seven strikeouts, allowing two runs (one earned) in 4 1/3 frames for the Pirates affiliate.

"He just keeps getting better," Pirates general manager Ben Cherington told's Alex Stumpf prior to the club's game on Wednesday. "We see the pitch-mix coming into form. Working on efficiency, when he’s using the secondary and starting to build the pitch count up now. Not surprised that he’s having success, but more underneath that just being intentional about what he’s doing. He’s working on things that will allow him to be a good Major League pitcher and more than just he’s trying to be a good Triple-A pitcher."

The right-hander's first taste of adversity came in the second frame. Omaha third baseman CJ Alexander laced a slider off the right-field wall for a triple and scored two batters later on a single from outfielder Nate Eaton. Eaton was thrown out on his way to second, getting Skenes out of the inning.

The Pirates’ top prospect extinguished any Storm Chasers momentum in the next inning. Following a leadoff single, Skenes set the next three batters down in order. However, in the fourth, he wasn’t as stingy. After another leadoff knock, the flamethrower walked the next batter and subsequently committed a throwing error, causing another run to score. Skenes then fanned the next two batters, ending his day on a high note.

Along with the outing being Skenes' first to enter the fifth inning, it also was his highest pitch count to date -- 71 pitches. Cherington said there is no specific number that Pittsburgh is looking for Skenes to hit, but he acknowledged that the past few starts have been trending in the right direction.

"It will need to be higher than 45 or wherever he was a couple of weeks ago," he said. "He’s starting to build now. He’s starting to get closer to that range. We will continue to work with him and assess where he is and give him feedback. Listen to him and how he’s doing with it and see what happens."

While the start raised his ERA – which is still at an impressive 0.53 -- Skenes still looked every bit as dominant as he had previously. He tied a career high with 12 whiffs and threw 21 pitches 99 mph or faster.