How much history can Skenes and Jones make in 2024?

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages
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Will this Pirates rotation rank among the franchise greats?

While the Pirates have had their fair share of vaunted starting pitchers, their franchise strikeout records remain in remarkable striking distance. (For example, Mitch Keller’s 2023 campaign, which was good but not great, landed him in the franchise’s top 10 single-season records for strikeouts and Ks per nine.) One feat, in particular, seems destined to be matched as long as the “grizzled vet” Keller maintains his career trajectory.

Only twice in Pittsburgh history have the Pirates had three pitchers surpass the 150 K mark. In 1969, Bob Veale, Dock Ellis, and Bob Moose tossed 213, 173, and 165 strikeouts, respectively. Steve Blass just missed the mark with 147. In 1983, Larry McWilliams, John Candelaria, and Rick Rhoden put up 199, 157, and 153 strikeouts. If Keller, who struck out 210 batters last season and has already passed the 50 K mark, keeps his pace and Skenes and Jones stay in the rotation, they could easily join this club.

The expectations and hopes are certainly high for this rookie duo, and prospects like Bubba Chandler and Anthony Solometo are waiting in the wings. With any luck, 2024 could be the season that Pirates fans look back on as the groundwork for long-term success.