MLB: Tigers ready for Paul Skenes as they play 2 vs. Pirates

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The Detroit Tigers are embracing the challenge of facing Pittsburgh Pirates rookie phenom Paul Skenes. The 21-year-old flamethrowing right-hander will make his fourth career start at Detroit on Wednesday.

He’s slated to start the second game of a straight doubleheader. The scheduled series opener on Tuesday was postponed by inclement weather. The opposing pitcher for the nightcap has yet to be announced.

Skenes has been dazzling his last two outings. He held the Chicago Cubs hitless for six innings while racking up 11 strikeouts for his first career win on May 17. In his last start on Thursday, he limited San Francisco to one run and six hits in six innings.

The Giants battled him, as Skenes threw 93 pitches and only recorded three strikeouts.

“Had a couple long innings, but there’s going to be those games,” Skenes said. “I thought I made do and put the team in the best position to win.”

Skenes (1-0, 2.25 ERA) has thrown 33 fastballs in his three starts that have registered at or above 100 mph, though only four in his most recent start.

“Obviously, it wasn’t his best, you know what I mean?” catcher Joey Bart said. “But if you can go out there and put that kind of performance on without your best stuff, then there’s definitely something to build on.”

The Tigers are gearing up for the heat.

“The challenge is definitely fun but everybody in the big leagues is a challenge,” outfielder Kerry Carpenter told the Detroit News.

First baseman Spencer Torkelson — like Skenes a former No. 1 overall pick — had a similar take on Skenes.

“I wouldn’t say it’s extra special,” Torkelson, taken No. 1 in 2020, told the same news outlet about facing Skenes, the No. 1 pick in 2023. “I mean, it’s cool. He’s got really good stuff. I respect his stuff and I hope everybody in this clubhouse respects his ability. But it’s the big leagues. We’ve seen 100 (mph) before. We’ve seen really good sliders before. Nothing surprises you.”

Another highly touted Pirates rookie, Jared Jones (3-4, 3.05) will start the opener. He has gone at least six innings in all four of his May starts. In his last outing, he gave up three runs and six hits in six innings against San Francisco on May 29, a 9-5 Pittsburgh loss in 10 innings.

Both Pirates starters will be facing the Tigers for the first time.

Detroit’s Tarik Skubal (6-1, 2.25) will carry a little extra motivation into the opener after taking his first loss of the season in his most recent start.

Skubal gave up four runs in five innings against Kansas City on May 22, requiring 96 pitches to get 15 outs.

“It was partly command and they had some really good at-bats,” said Skubal, who had not given up more than two earned runs in his previous seven starts. “They fouled off some really good pitches and there were too many pitcher’s counts that went to 3-2 counts. And that’s a credit, I guess, to their hitters. I’ve got to do a better job at finishing those at-bats.”

Skubal is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in three career appearances (two starts) against Pittsburgh.

As for the second game, the Tigers could go with right-hander Matt Manning, who has pitched in each of the team’s previous three doubleheaders.

He has an 0-1 record and 4.88 ERA in five starts with the Tigers this season. He’s 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA in two career outings against Pittsburgh.

–Field Level Media

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