As I was watching Paul Skenes absolutely carve up the Butler Bulldog’s lineup last night, I kept thinking to myself: “He has to have the best combo of stuff and command I have ever seen from an LSU player.”
Skenes first pitch of the game was fouled off at 101, and then the next two were swings and misses at 100.
Skenes to start the game: FB 101 fouled off, FB 100 swinging, FB 100 for K. 😤 @LSUbaseball— Anthony Ranaudo (@anthony_ranaudo) March 4, 2023
Paul Skenes, 100.3mph heater...and K Strut. ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/PtHLPG4hhw— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 4, 2023
He sat 96-99 the entire game, regularly touching 100+, with a nasty slider at 84-86, and mixing in a few change-ups in the upper 80’s.
There was barely any contact, endless swings and misses, and went through 6 innings pretty seamlessly.
Now it’s one thing to be able to throw a baseball 100 mph.
But controlling it is completely different.
Then there is commanding it.
What’s the difference of control and command?
Control is having feel and awareness of where the ball is going with a generally good ratio of strikes to balls.
Command…now that’s completely different.
That’s being able to put the ball where you want, when you want.
And that’s what Paul Skenes does.
And when he doesn’t? Look at his face and demeanor. He knows he missed, and he is ready for an adjustment. And that’s the key.
At one point last night, I believe Skenes had nine punchies, in 56 pitches, with only nine balls thrown.
I never saw Ben McDonald pitch, and I know there were some electric arms in the 90’s with their dynasty teams— but during my time, and the time after, we haven’t seen the combo of stuff and command that Paul Skenes has presented on Friday’s so far this year.
LSU has had some pretty powerful arms come through the program like Kevin Gausman, Ryan Eades, Aaron Nola, Alex Lange, Zach Hess— but none have done this. Gausman would touch 98, 99 but pitch at 94-96, Lange had the swing and miss stuff but pitched 91-94, Nola has all the command but never the power arm into the high 90’s or triple digits.
I talked to Ryan Theriot earlier today to make sure I wasn’t crazy or fanboying in a weird way, and he confirmed it.
He told me with his arm slot and command there’s a shot he could be pitching in MLB in September or October, THIS YEAR.
And the best part?
We have barely seem him mix his pitches.
Skenes told me on my podcast the other day that he was primarily a fastball-change-up pitcher before discovering his nasty slider this year.
The slider has been the compliment to his two fastballs that have crazy movement through the zone— and probably why he gets so many swings and misses.
As the season progresses, time will tell how his mix develops and what his secondary pitches will be, but for the time being his dominance is incomparable.
The stuff, the stature and demeanor, the command and the results all speak for themselves.
Paul Skenes is special and having an incredible start to his LSU career and season.
Excited to see what the future hold for him and the Tigers.