Argument on why Paul Skenes(Pittsburgh Pirates) should start for the NL in this year’s MLB All-Star Game

Why Pirates rookie Paul Skenes should be considered to start All-Star Game
from Adam Gretz with

Pittsburgh Pirates phenom pitcher Paul Skenes will be making his 10th career start on Friday night against the New York Mets as he looks to continue his impressive rookie season.

Through his first nine starts, Skenes has been so electrifying that he already looks like he has a legitimate chance to be the Pirates’ representative at the 2024 Major League Baseball All-Star in Texas.(Skenes is [4-0/2.06 ERA] over his nine starts, with 52 1/3 innings, and he has 70 strikeouts vs. just 10 walks.)

It might also be worth discussing if he should be an option to start that game.

If his next two starts before the All-Star break go anything like his first nine starts, you might be able to assemble a compelling argument.

Critics of that will argue that a rookie with such a small sample size is not worthy of that honor and that more veteran, established pitchers with a larger body of work this season should get that call. Somebody like Atlanta Braves veteran Chris Sale would certainly be in that discussion, as would Philadelphia’s Ranger Saurez with his 2.27 ERA entering play on Friday.

There might be some truth to that.

But there is some truth to the fact that Skenes has been every bit as good, if not better, than almost every other starter in the major leagues, even in a limited sampling.

Entering play on Friday, he has a 2.06 ERA. While he does not yet have enough innings to qualify for the league lead, it is currently lower than every qualified starter in the majors.

Of the 173 pitchers that have started at least nine games and thrown at least 50 innings, that ERA is second only to Atlanta’s Reynaldo Lopez (1.83).

His 2.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is already 22nd among pitchers despite the fact he has, again, only started nine games. Every pitcher ahead of him has already started at least 15 games or made at least 30 appearances in relief. Of the pitchers who have already accumulated a WAR of at least 2.0, he is the only one who has done so in fewer than 15 starts (or 30 relief appearances).

He is striking out 12.0 batters per nine innings, the second-highest mark among starters while walking just 10 batters in 52.1.

He routinely touches — and exceeds — 100 mph in his starts. He has not just been great; he has been completely dominant and has already become one of the league’s must-see pitchers.

Those are just the arguments from an objective, numbers perspective.

There is a subjective argument to this: The All-Star game is not always just about “deserving” players. In theory, it is, but that does not always play out in practice, especially when every team must have at least one player in the game. It is also about celebrating the game’s stars and star power, literally in the game’s title. It is about the players people want to see.

With his velocity and pitch movement, Skenes has already become a must-see pitcher, which makes highlights and fools even the best hitters. His one-on-one matchups with Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani earlier this season became the talk of the sports world for days in a way that no other hitter-pitcher matchup has this season.

He is a legitimate star. If he maintains his current pace over his next two starts, he should be a lock to be in the game and a possibility to start it.

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