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Paul Skenes’ ‘Splinker’ Propelling Historic Start To Pirates Career

Paul Skenes seemingly is making history every time he toes the rubber for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he’s quickly becoming a must-see attraction.

The former No. 1 pick has been advertised to begin his major league career.

The right-hander took the ball Wednesday on his 22nd birthday and delivered another gem, salvaging the second half of a doubleheader with the Tigers. Skenes logged six strong innings, allowing just two runs on three hits while striking out nine and walking just one. After a relatively shaky first start (three runs in four innings), he has been downright dominant since, allowing just three earned runs over his last 18 innings. Skenes already has 30 punchouts through his first 22 big league innings.

His dynamic arsenal is the talk of the league. Skenes’ fastball obviously presents a difficult challenge for opposing hitters. His average fastball travels 99.3 mph, ranking fifth in all of the big leagues for pitchers who have thrown at least 250 pitches this season, and the four hurlers in front of him are all relievers.

What has really helped Skenes find success, however, is his “splinker.” The splitter/sinker combination has been a go-to pitch for Skenes. The right-hander throws it 35% of the time, at a ridiculous 94.4 mph, with opposing batters hitting a minuscule .067 against the pitch.

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“I told him this offseason I’m spending the whole offseason with you to learn that splinker you’re throwing. … It’s 95 and it has the most movement I’ve ever seen on a sinker. So it’s pretty gross,” Pirates pitcher Jared Jones said Friday in an appearance alongside Skenes on “The Pat McAfee Show.”

Jones’ introduction to the big leagues has been almost as impressive. The right-hander is near the top of the league with a 1.01 WHIP, and he too is averaging more than a strikeout per inning with 70 punchouts in 63 frames.

The future is certainly bright atop the Buccos’ rotation.

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Featured image via Lon Horwedel/USA TODAY Sports Images