11 ways Skenes' stellar start has put him in rare air

May 17th, 2024

Just two starts into his MLB career, Pirates phenom is already making history.

Skenes, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 Draft and MLB Pipeline’s current No. 2 overall prospect, was electric Friday afternoon against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in his second career start.

The flamethrowing right-hander tossed six innings of no-hit ball with 11 strikeouts on 100 pitches to pick up his first win. The Cubs finally scratched across a hit against the Bucs' bullpen in the bottom of the seventh.

Here are 11 stats and facts that illustrate Skenes’ early dominance.

1. Skenes came out firing, to say the least, striking out the first seven batters he faced. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the longest such streak to open a game in Pirates franchise history and the third-longest streak to open a game by a rookie in the Live Ball Era (since 1920), trailing only Jacob deGrom (Sept. 15, 2014) and Jim Deshaies (Sept. 23, 1986), who share the record of eight.

2. Skenes' seven straight K's to start the game also tied the longest streak for a Pirates pitcher at any point in a game -- he joins Erik Bedard (May 3, 2012) and Francisco Liriano (June 1, 2013).

3. Skenes showcased his impressive velocity all game long. In fact, six of his 11 strikeouts on the day were on pitches 100 mph or faster. That tied Skenes with the Reds’ Hunter Greene for the third-most 100+ mph K’s in a game during the pitch-tracking era (since 2008), behind only two other performances by Greene.

4. In the pitch-tracking era (since 2008), just three starting pitchers have recorded three 100+ mph strikeouts in one half-inning. Those three? Greene, who's done so twice (in the second inning on Sept. 17, 2022, and the first on Oct. 3, 2022), Bobby Miller (first inning, July 5, 2023) and, as of Friday, Skenes, who had three against Mike Tauchman (100.3 mph), Ian Happ (100.1) and Cody Bellinger (100.3) in the first.

5. Skenes touched 101.2 mph on his second-inning strikeout of Miles Mastrobuoni, tying his own record -- set in his first start -- for the fastest strikeout by a Pirates starting pitcher in the pitch-tracking era (including the postseason).

6. All told, Skenes threw 12 pitches that registered at 100 mph or faster in this game after doing so 17 times in his debut. With 29 such pitches, Skenes now leads all starters this season, eclipsing the Angels’ José Soriano (28 in seven games started). Skenes is also now responsible for two of the three starts this season in which a pitcher threw at least a dozen pitches with triple-digit velocity. (Greene had the other, with 16 on March 30.)

7. Skenes is the first pitcher in the Modern Era (since 1900) to have an outing of 6+ innings with at least 10 strikeouts and no hits allowed in his first or second career appearance -- although it is important to note that incomplete hitless starts are a relatively new phenomenon.

8. Prior to Skenes, there had been one prior instance of a pitcher having 6+ scoreless innings in an MLB game within a calendar year of being drafted No. 1 overall: 18-year-old David Clyde of the Rangers in 1973, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. If we add the requirement of 10+ strikeouts, then it had never been done before Skenes.

9. This is only the second time a pitcher 21 years old or younger has had a 10+ K outing with no more than one hit allowed at Wrigley Field, and Skenes is, appropriately, in historic company. The first such outing was Kerry Wood's May 6, 1998, start against the Astros -- better remembered as his 20-K game.

10. On that note, Skenes’ 11 strikeouts are the most in a game at Wrigley Field by a Pirates pitcher. And, just for the record, Friday's game marked the 1,017th between the Pirates and Cubs at Wrigley Field.

11. Skenes' 18 strikeouts across his first two Major League appearances are also tied for the third-most in the past 45 seasons, just behind Stephen Strasburg (22, June 8-13, 2010) and Tim Hudson (19, June 8-13, 1999).