Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Waiting for Paul


This is Jared Jones. He throws really hard and plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jones currently has 39 strikeouts, which is the second most in all of baseball. It might also be one of the highest strikeout totals in someone's first 5 games or something like that, bottom line is he's doing things that not a lot of rookies have done, and he's doing it in Pittsburgh. 

However, the Pirates, who were 11-5 last week, are now 12-11, meaning the Pirates have once again squandered a huge start by being the Pirates. They're currently in fourth place in the NL Central, and a lot of the pieces that were delivering in week 1 are now barely hitting for average and don't have more than 10 RBIs to show for it. The team has series against the Brewers and Giants, two tough teams, before a much gentler batch of games against the Rockies and A's, and with the more tepid tides pulling into Pittsburgh, fans are growing worried. They saw this team's potential, and even with someone like Jared Jones, or even the last three powerful rookies, Ke'Bryan Hayes, Henry Davis and Oneil Cruz, they're still not playing as well as they should be.

And I know that things aren't great. I know they just lost like 6 in a row. And I know that Quinn Priester doesn't seem like a very sturdy fifth rotation option. But it is wild to me that a Pirates fan can look at a rotation where Mitch Keller, Jared Jones, Bailey Falter and Martin Perez are all performing extremely well, and have each contributed excellent starts throughout April, and go 'this needs Paul Skenes'.

I think it is fairly understandable that the Pittsburgh Pirates are being extremely careful with Paul Skenes. They're making sure he only pitches a few innings in Indianapolis, spacing his starts out, and they're definitely ensuring he has enough time in the minors, even if Wyatt Langford can do what he's doing. The state of pitching right now is dire, and everyone's been throwing so hard in developmental leagues that they're at risk of blowing a gasket by the time they hit the majors. Paul Skenes throws hard, and nobody can hit him. But at any point, he could wear out his arm and need surgery. It happened to Andrew Painter last year and we still haven't heard from him.

Rushing Skenes and injuring him minutes into his rookie campaign is the worst thing the Pirates could do. After what happened to Jasson Dominguez, it's a possibility, and not one they want on their conscience right now. So I get why they haven't promoted him. If they're doing well enough right now, and if Priester and Falter can still at least keep runs down, we don't need Paul Skenes. And might I also add...the Pirates HAVE a rookie who can throw smoke right now. Jared Jones. Remember him, top of the post? So like, it says a lot for a fanbase to see someone playing beautifully and pitching like a god and immediately go 'WE WANT BETTER'. Skenes and Jones in the same rotation is a great idea, but we will get there naturally, otherwise it'll be like the 2010s Mets rotations where they're never healthy at the same time and the moment they are is like the moment in This is the End where Michael Cera is being really mean to Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, like this is what we wanted all along only now it's nowhere near as happy.

The Pirates could be slowly on the upswing, though. Andrew McCutchen's getting hot again, that's always a good thing. Aroldis Chapman can still hit 100, he's been useful. Nobody's really hitting for power but you can see people starting to. So maybe it won't be all bad. 

What I'm saying is, Pirates fans...have a tiny bit of faith. They may not need Skenes. The O's didn't necessarily need Holliday, did they?

Coming Tonight: Speaking of people from strong rotations that can throw really hard...

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