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What MLB’s Best Hitters Have Said About Facing Paul Skenes

'He's a stud and he's a problem'

Some of MLB’s top hitters saw what all the hype was about over the last couple of months when it came to Pittsburgh Pirates star pitcher Paul Skenes.

After stepping into the batter’s box to face the flame-throwing right-hander, they walked away impressed.

It’s hard not to be. The 22-year-old Skenes, who was the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, dazzles with a fastball that sits around triple digits and can go a few ticks over the century mark. He also possesses a ridiculous splinker — a mix between a splitter and sinker — to go along with a very solid slider, curveball and change-up.

“He just mixes everything really well,” St. Louis Cardinals star third baseman Nolan Arenado said last month, per’s John Denton. “I knew he had great stuff, but I didn’t know he was going to mix it in like that. He did a really good job, he’s a stud and he’s a problem.”

While Skenes matching up against Shohei Ohtani captivated audiences when the Pirates took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in early June, the 6-foot-6 235-pound righty also had to face seven-time All-Star Mookie Betts that day. Betts struggled against Skenes, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

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“But the time that I got to face him, his stuff is real,” Betts said on his “On Base with Mookie Betts” podcast, as transcribed by Heavy’s Russell Steinberg. “He’s sitting 100 to 102 (mph), they call it the splinker I guess, splitter or sinker. It’s hard. He’s good.”

Atlanta Braves outfielder Jarred Kelenic had more success off of Skenes than Betts did. Kelenic took Skenes deep for a solo shot, but it was the only run the Braves scored off the LSU product — Skenes finished with nine strikeouts in six innings. Kelenic getting the better of Skenes didn’t change his opinion of the sensational pitcher.

“Everybody knows who (Skenes) is,” Kelenic said, per’s Alex Stumpf. “I made a plan to myself that I was going to be aggressive in the zone, especially on the fastball, early. I was just on time for it … He’s got great stuff, and he’s going to be an absolute superstar.”

But during Skenes’ first 10 big-league starts, in which he’s produced a 5-0 record with a 2.12 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 78 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings, most batters end up like Detroit Tigers star outfielder Riley Greene. Greene went hitless with a strikeout in three at-bats.

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“He’s good,” Greene told reporters, per The Detroit News’ Chris McCosky. “He throws 100, he sits 100, with run and then he’s got that splitter. He’s good. He throws three pitches for strikes. Some of his pitches fall off the table. They look like strikes and they weren’t.”

Featured image via Jordan Godfree/USA TODAY Sports Images