Skenes a key part of 'good foundation' making up Pirates' rotation

June 2nd, 2024

The future outlook is increasingly looking brighter for the Pirates, with much of that optimism surrounding their starting rotation.

Top pitching prospect has burst onto the scene with a 2.45 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 22 innings across his first four starts. Joining Skenes is (MLB Pipeline’s No. 62 preseason prospect), who has compiled a 3.55 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings as a rookie. 28-year-old , too, has settled into a solid mid-rotation option in Pittsburgh (3.42 ERA this season).

Pirates general manager Ben Cherington certainly shares similar optimism for Pittsburgh’s rotation.

“When we go into each game, we feel like we have a chance to win. More often than not, our starters are giving us a chance to win,” Cherington said in an MLB Network Radio interview on Sirius XM. “We have a really good foundation. You can’t ever take that for granted in terms of the starting pitching.”

Skenes is the biggest attraction of the bunch and has the best chance to become one of baseball’s top starters. Between the high-octane stuff -- including an average 99.4 mph fastball, a devastating sinker/splitter hybrid and a nasty slider -- and his strong command and big size, there’s no doubt Skenes is an ace in the making. But even the hype around one of baseball’s most anticipated prospects caught Cherington off guard.

“That [hype and attention] did catch me off guard a little bit. I think we anticipated that there would be interest and obviously excitement about his ability on the field,” Cherington said. “But the level of interest and certainly the impact it’s had at our ballpark when he pitches has probably even exceeded what my expectations have been.”

While the Pirates sit in fourth place in the NL Central with a 27-31 record, there’s ample reason to believe this is a team on the rise. With a talented young rotation in place, the electric Oneil Cruz and solid everyday players in Brian Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes, the Pirates could make noise in the Senior Circuit in the coming years.

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