Paul Skenes Strikes Out 11 In Six Hitless Innings


Image credit: (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

If you were around a TV, cell phone or computer, and especially if you were fortunate enough to be at Wrigley Field on Friday, cherish what you witnessed.

Paul Skenes transformed potential into production in one magical 90-minute stretch. Yes, he was pulled after six innings, but those six innings were some of the best pitching we’ll get to see at any point this year.

He struck out the first seven batters he faced. Skenes didn’t allow a baserunner until the fifth. He left with a no-hitter, striking out Mike Tauschman with a 100 mph fastball on the 100th pitch of his outing.

He dotted the zone. He was in complete and total control. Skenes threw 34 of his 41 fastballs for strikes. His fastball lived successfully in the strike zone. He didn’t need to elevate or get hitters to chase it out of the zone. He just buried them with fastballs in hittable zones. At best, they could foul it off, hoping to survive for another pitch. Skenes gave up 25 foul balls among his 100 pitches.

His secondaries? Those were the pitches he dotted on the edges.

In six innings, only one Cubs batter really squared him up. Miguel Amaya hit a well-struck ground ball up the middle that Oneil Cruz turned into an out. A lazy fly ball by Christopher Morel (90 mph exit velocity, 330 feet) was the only ball that left the infield. Skenes walked one. He had 20 whiffs.

But here’s why I implore everyone to cherish it. Pitchers get craftier as they gain experience. They figure out how to better set up hitters. But that was raw juice we just witnessed. That electricity that leaves hitters helpless, that’s fleeting. It’s that first sip of a great beer on a hot summer day. We may have just watched Skenes at the most dominant he’ll ever be with the nastiest stuff he’ll ever show. I hope it’s not the case, but there’s plenty of examples from the past.

Dwight Gooden had an incredible career, but if you saw him in 1984 or 1985 (or in the minors in 1983) you saw Doc at his absolute best. Everything after that paled in comparison.

Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game came as a rookie. Roger Clemens pitched for two decades, but if you wanted to watch him demonstrate pure arrogant dominance, your time machine needs to take you back to 1986 when he was a 23-year-old.

Stephen Strasburg’s most important games came when he led the Nationals to a World Series title. But if you ask me what was the game where he was the nastiest, I’ll still pick his MLB debut.

Roki Sasaki hasn’t made it to the U.S. yet, but I doubt we’ll ever see him look better than he did when he threw a 19-strikeout perfect game in 2022 followed by eight perfect innings in his next start.

Skenes left the game in line to pick up his first MLB win on Friday. He’ll hopefully have many more. But when it comes to having days where hitters have no chance, it’s hard to believe he can be much better than what we just saw.

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