Backlash to potential Paul Skenes All-Star Game start is getting embarrassing

Get a grip, people.
Jun 29, 2024; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes (30) pitches the ball against Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Godfree-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 29, 2024; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes (30) pitches the ball against Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Godfree-USA TODAY Sports / Jordan Godfree-USA TODAY Sports
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There may be no bigger star in baseball right now – at least on the pitcher's mound – than Pittsburgh Pirates rookie flamethrower Paul Skenes.

Just eight weeks after making his MLB debut, Skenes has made history as the first player drafted No. 1 overall to be selected to the All-Star Game the following year. And if that wasn't impressive enough, there is a very good chance he could be the National League's starting pitcher.

Skenes only has 10 MLB starts under his belt, though, and rumors of a potential All-Star starting nod have reportedly received some backlash within the MLB insider community.

“I truly do believe people would tune in to watch Paul Skenes pitch, preferably at the beginning of the game,” ESPN’s Jeff Passan said Sunday after Skenes earned an All-Star selection despite debuting May 11. “There were a lot of people in the industry who responded to that idea of Paul Skenes starting over say Ranger Suarez or Chris Sale with, ‘Come on, you got to earn it.’"

It's unclear who exactly is complaining about Skenes getting the start at the Midsummer Classic, but this old-school mentality simply does not fly here. Skenes may be the shiny new toy who is relatively unproven at the Major League level, but the fact of the matter is that he has only needed 10 electrifying starts to become the biggest buzz in baseball right now. And isn't that what the All-Star game is all about?

Pirates' Paul Skenes is more deserving of an All-Star start than any other NL pitcher

To be fair, the argument for Philadelphia's Suarez or Atlanta's Sale to be the National League's starter isn't totally unfounded. Suarez leads the NL in ERA while Sale is second and leads in wins and WHIP. Sale is also an eight-time All-Star who is enjoying a career resurgence at age 35. Skenes, on the other hand, can't even qualify for the ERA title due to his light workload. (If he could qualify, though, Skenes' ERA would rank second.)

The All-Star Game, however, is a national showcase in the form of an exhibition game. Over the years, it has evolved into a made-for-TV spectacle. With no disrespect to Suarez or Sale, they won't draw even close to the number of eyeballs that Skenes will. Plus, Sale isn't even eligible to pitch because of his upcoming scheduled starts on Tuesday and Sunday.

And novelty isn't the only factor here; Skenes has earned every bit of the hype surrounding his name right now. In 10 starts, he's 5-0 with a 2.12 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 78 strikeouts and only 12 walks in 59 1/3 innings. His pitching repertoire is otherworldly, with his fastball maxing at 102.6 mph and regularly topping 100 mph.

Are you really telling us that's not the guy you want starting on the mound against the likes of Jose Altuve, Juan Soto and Aaron Judge at the top of the American League lineup? Come on. Skenes is tailor-made for this moment after all he's accomplished.

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