Jared Jones earns win in MLB debut in Pirates' 9-3 victory over Marlins

Pittsburgh's #3 prospect becomes fourth pitcher in franchise history with 10 or more strikeouts in MLB debut

Mar 30, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jared Jones (37) pitches
Mar 30, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jared Jones (37) pitches / Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Just minutes after Paul Skenes wrapped up his dominant debut at the highest level of the minor leagues, Jared Jones put on a show of his own in his MLB debut.

The right-hander was more than impressive in his debut, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks, striking out 10 in 5.2 innings. He became the first Pirate to record at least 10 strikeouts in his MLB debut since Tim Wakefield in 1992:

Jones almost exclusively threw fastballs and sliders - he actually threw two more sliders than fastballs - and both pitches were very effective. His fastball averaged 97.1 MPH and reached 100 twice, and he kept it in the strike zone at a 76 percent clip. The zone rate on his slider was much lower, at just 40 percent, but it didn't really matter, as the slider got a whiff on an unreal 58.8 percent of swings.

According to OptaSTATS, Jones induced more whiffs than any other pitched in his MLB debut in 34 seasons. He primarily kept the fastball up and the slider down and glove-side, and this gameplan worked very well for him:

Through three innings, the only blemish on Jones' line came from an Oneil Cruz throwing error. In his first time through the Marlins' batting order, he struck out five, including a couple of established sluggers - Josh Bell, who was caught looking, and Jazz Chisholm Jr., who went down swinging on a 98-MPH heater.

Jones got into a bit of trouble in the fourth inning, all of which came after it appeared that he struck out Chisholm Jr. looking. A walk and a pair of hits allowed two runs to score, but Jones then struck out Tim Anderson and proceeded to rebound with a perfect fifth inning. A third run scored after Jones was pulled with two on and two out in the sixth inning. So while his ERA, which currently sits at 4.77, doesn't look all that great, it isn't indicative of how well the rookie pitched this afternoon.

That Jones was even on the mound today came as a bit of a surprise. He made just 15 starts at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2023 and had a 4.72 ERA after posting a mark of 2.23 in Double-A Altoona. Jones was in Spring Training as a non-roster invitee but forced his way into the starting rotation after pitching 16.1 spring innings with 15 strikeouts and zero earned runs. While the Pirates are notorious for keeping prospects in the minors until they have the extra year of service time secured, Jones' strong spring forced the club to make the unconventional and aggressive decision.

With Jones already finding success in the majors and Paul Skenes not far behind, the Young Bucs may be infiltrating the Pirates' roster sooner than expected.

Jones is currently in line to start the Pirates' home opener on Friday, April 5.