How many pitches can Pirates fans expect from Paul Skenes?

Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates
Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

One of the most frustrating losses for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2024 has to be from the series against the New York Mets. The Pirates, who were on the road, were swept by the National League East team. The specific game was the 2nd game of the series.

The Pirates sent stud right-handed rookie pitcher Jared Jones to the mound. He pitched exactly like that too. He cruised through 5 innings, only allowing 1 hit, 0 walks, and struck out 7. However, he did not come out to the mound for the 6th inning. The Pirates would end up losing the game by a score of 3-1.

Fans were made for multiple reasons. One was that the team lost the game, and the lineup only provided 1 run. The other reason that fans of the Pirates were upset was because the team took Jones out when he was at just 59 total pitches. Jones, who is 22 years of age, was on pace to be able to throw at least into the 7th inning. Instead, the Organization said they wanted to limit his pitches. It was his first time pitching on 4 days rest for the 2024 season.

It was irritating, but also typical. The Pirates and many other teams across baseball are becoming more and more cognitive of load management for their pitches, especially the younger arms. To me, 59 pitches is a little too conservative, another inning at worst probably would have seen him get up to 75 total pitches. So while being cautious with innings is fine and expected, this particular instance seemed mismanaged.

So this leads to the question, what will the limitations be on Paul Skenes? At this point, everyone knows how careful the Pirates have been in terms of developing and building Skenes up to pitch in the Big Leagues. They slowly worked his pitch count up maxing out at 75. He threw above 60 pitches 4 times this season at Triple-A.

So how many pitches can we expect from Paul Skenes? Well his last start he only threw 66, but that likely was cut short on purpose. He did "struggle" some and had that many pitches in the 4th inning. Still, it was his first time pitching on 4 days' rest so keeping his count limited was expected. In his two starts previous to that he threw 71 and 75 pitches.

I think this is where the Pirates would like Skenes to end up on Saturday night.

Do not expect him to pitch deep into the game unless he is on complete cruise control. I would expect anywhere from 65-75 total pitches.