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“Gripping It and Ripping It:” Pirates’ Jared Jones Blanks Rockies



Pittsburgh Pirates' Jared Jones pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pirates’ rookie Jared Jones authored the best start of his brief major league career on Saturday, allowing just one baserunner across seven innings and striking out ten Rockies’ batters. His effort kept the Pirates’ anemic offense in the game, setting the table for Jack Suwinski’s pinch-hit, walk-off single in the 1-0 decision.

Jones went to his four-seam fastball on 53 of the 96 pitches he threw, drawing 11 swings and misses and 11 called strikes.

“I think I was just gripping and ripping it,” Jones said of the fastball. “That’s how I throw, just letting my stuff play in the strike zone, and I guess that’s how it just ended up.”

Jared Jones Pounds the Zone

Pirates’ manager Derek Shelton zeroed in on Jones’ ability to locate his fastball on the arm side of the plate—inside to right-handed batters, in particular—as a catalyst to his success. Jones’ liberal use of the fastball to all locations increased the impact of his secondary offerings.

“What I thought he did better today than he’s done is I thought he used the inner half of the plate to right-handed hitters,” Shelton said. “He did a good job of going off the plate in so he could use the two breaking balls and then he did a really good job of staying on the plate in, which is hard to do.”

Jones is far from a soft-tosser, with his fastball averaging 97.6 miles per hour on Saturday and topping out at 100.3 mph. Even so, he said that using the inside of the plate helped give it some extra life.

I went inside,” Jones said. “Fastball plays a lot harder than it really is, and being able to execute those pitches got me a lot of good results.”

Despite the excellent result, Jones couldn’t help but zero in on room for improvement. When asked about his use of the slider, which he threw 28 times to generate 16 swings (four misses), the flamethrowing rookie sounded unimpressed.

“I thought it was pretty patchy, but that’s just me being a super art critic about myself,” Jones said. “I threw it when I needed it, and it got good results.”

Other Side of the Plate: Rockies Chime In

The late, great Henry Aaron said in his autobiography “I Had a Hammer” that young pitchers gave him more trouble at the plate than the greats of the day, even with legends like Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson among them. His experience with established pitchers meant he had an idea of what they’d throw to him, a mental scouting report of how to react.

With younger pitchers who he hadn’t faced, it could take time to get up to speed on their arsenal.

Colorado Rockies’ skipper Bud Black said much the same thing about Jared Jones. Even in an era with veritable treasure troves of data and film on pitchers and their pitches, he still gave the Rockies something they weren’t entirely prepared for.

“I’ve always said the first time you face a pitcher, the pitcher has an advantage,” Black said.

“We did our homework on him, watched a ton of video, talked to scouts who had seen him but it’s a whole different thing when you get into the box against him. The kid is very good, and he has a great arm, and he throws a lot of strikes, especially for a young pitcher who throws that hard.”

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