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Pirates Preview: The Paul Skenes Era Begins



Pirates' 2023 first overall pick Paul Skenes takes the mound in Spring Training.

The Pittsburgh Pirates fell 7-2 in the opening game of their weekend series with the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.

Jared Jones delivered another quality start and the newly-recalled Nick Gonzales provided some early offense but it was overall another bad night at the plate for the offense.

The Pirates (17-22) will look to even their series with the Cubs (23-16) as top pitching prospect Paul Skenes makes his much-anticipated MLB debut.

Saturday’s game will begin at 4:05 ET and the game will be televised on SportsNet Pittsburgh.


A chance for thunderstorms leading up to first pitch with temperatures approaching 60 degrees. Winds SW at 10 mph.

The Pittsburgh Pirates Will Send Out RHP Paul Skenes (MLB Debut)

Skenes dominated at Triple-A Indianapolis prior to being called up to Pittsburgh.

In seven starts, the Pirates’ top prospect posted a 0.99 ERA and struck out 45 batters in 27.1 innings pitched. At the time of his promotion, Skenes’ 45 strikeouts ranked third in the International League despite throwing fewer innings than anyone in the top seven.

Skenes is considered the Pirates’ top prospect, the top pitching prospect in baseball and the third-best prospect overall, according to MLB Pipeline.

The Pirates selected Skenes with the top pick in last year’s draft after he helped lead the LSU Tigers to the College World Series.

The Chicago Cubs Will Send Out LHP Justin Steele (0-0, 0.96 ERA)

Steele, who missed the start of the season due to a hamstring, is picking up right where he left off after finishing fifth in the National League Cy Young race a year ago.

Through his first two starts of the season, Steele has allowed just one one on six hits across 9.1 innings pitched.

Last season, Steele finished third in the N.L. with 16 wins and a 3.06 ERA and was named an All-Star for the first time.

The Pirates have had some success against Steele in their six prior matchups. The left-hander is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA against the Bucs.

Cubs Hitters vs. Skenes

  • N/A

Pirates Hitters vs. Steele

  • Andrew McCutchen: 1 for 15, four strikeouts
  • Bryan Reynolds: 3 for 12, one home run, one RBI, one walk, two strikeouts
  • Ke’Bryan Hayes: 5 for 9, two doubles, one home run, two RBIs, one walk, one strikeout
  • Rowdy Tellez: 1 for 9, one RBI, one walk, five strikeouts
  • Connor Joe: 5 for 8, two walks, one strikeout
  • Jack Suwinski: 1 for 5, one RBI, two strikeouts
  • Oneil Cruz: 1 for 3, one double, one RBI, two strikeouts


  • In his brief minor-league career, Paul Skenes struck out 41.4% of the batters he faced.
  • Skenes becomes the fourth pitcher selected with the first pick by the Pirates to make his MLB debut with Pittsburgh, joining Kris Benson, Bryan Bullington and Gerrit Cole.
  • Oneil Cruz went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk in Friday’s game and is batting .360 in the month of May.


Perrotto: A Look at Other Pirates’ No. 1 Pitchers’ MLB Debuts

Paul Skenes Unbothered by Lofty Expectations Ahead of Debut

Pirates Prospect Watch: Inside-the-Park Grand Slam in Bradenton

Nick Gonzales Tore Up Triple-A, Now Hoping to Stay Hot With Pirates

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