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Paul Skenes Issued This Challenge To Pirates Teammate After MLB Call-Up

The Pittsburgh Pirates are building something exciting.

The city feels it. Fans feel it. And the manager feels it.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Pirates skipper Derek Shelton told reporters Wednesday after Pittsburgh defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-6 at PNC Park. “And you know, I think when you have young players that you’ve drafted and developed like we have with (Jared) Jones, (Paul) Skenes and even (Mitch) Keller, we’re seeing the fans are into it.

“It’s really fun to see this ballpark come alive.”

The Pirates’ road back to contention begins with its rotation, spearheaded by the three pitchers Shelton mentioned: Paul Skenes, Jared Jones and Mitch Keller. That trio has the potential to completely change the narrative in Pittsburgh — where the Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since 2015 — and it’s obvious to everyone, including those directly involved.

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“(Skenes) came up to us and said, ‘So it’s gonna be me, you and Keller for at least the next 5-6 years, right?’ ” Jones told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday night, reflecting on a conversation he had shortly after Skenes’ MLB promotion. “I said, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty cool.’ “

Keller, now in his sixth season with Pittsburgh, has been a steady force in the Pirates rotation. Now, with his two rookie running mates turning heads each trip to the mound, it’s easy to envision a scenario where the Pirates are playoff contenders sooner rather than later.

Not only are Skenes and Jones super talented, with the former being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft and the latter rising up the ranks after being selected in the second round in 2020. They’re clearly motivated, as well, with Skenes’ challenge being another indication that Pittsburgh is forming an impressive young core that ultimately could lead to sustainable success.

Featured image via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images