LSU pitcher Paul Skenes explains why he hasn’t thrown many of his secondary pitches

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LSU pitcher Paul Skenes has shown his 100 miles-per-hour fastball, but he hasn’t shown much else in his arsenal this season.

There’s a reason for that: What Skenes threw in his first three starts of the season just worked. Entering Friday’s game against Samford, he was No. 1 in the country with 36 strikeouts. He held a 0.50 ERA and had given up six hits, walked three batters and has one earned run through 18 innings.

The drawback to not throwing many sliders or changeups is that he has less practice with those pitches before conference play begins next weekend.

“I want to be able to get into a situation where I can make pitches,” Skenes said after a 12-0 victory over Butler on March 3. “It’s tough to throw your off-speed pitches when you don’t have a feel for it.

“I threw my changeup twice (March 3) in what, 78 pitches? When we play other teams, it’s going to be more of a necessity to throw that pitch.”

Skenes explained that he does throw his changeup between outings, and that secondary pitches are further emphasized in his Tuesday bullpen sessions.

He knows he will need them when LSU faces Texas A&M on March 17 in College Station.

While he was a highly-touted pitcher out of Air Force because of his fastball velocity, Skenes’ slider needed work when he arrived at LSU. He originally threw a gyro slider, which drops sharply upon arrival at the plate, but now he throws a sweeping slider, which has more horizontal movement. It’s more effective for pitchers throwing out of lower arm slots such as Skenes.

“I didn’t really know what a gyro slider was, to be honest, and they are completely different pitches,” Skenes said after a 10-0 victory over Western Michigan on Feb. 17. “It’s just a different sight point, and then I’m throwing it a lot more to lefties. I hardly threw it at all to lefties — my sixth start or so last year, that was the first time I threw a slider to a lefty — and I threw a number of them (Feb. 17). Being able to throw it to both sides — knowing where to start — it’s obviously a work in progress, but I think we’re in a good spot with that.”

The slider will travel away from a right-handed batter and inside against a left-handed batter. But what makes Skenes’ slider so special is that it’s still faster than most breaking pitches in college baseball, with a velocity in the upper 80s.

The game against Butler was his most efficient outing yet, where he tossed 76% of his pitches for strikes, and that may not always be the case once he shows what’s left in his rolodex. But even his fastball has improved, which he started throwing consistently at 98-99 mph during the first week. Against Butler, it often was hitting 100-101 mph.

“I think as the season progresses, I’m gonna start to move better and my sequence is going to get better,” Skenes said. “But when your strengths are aligned with their weaknesses, you just exploit them all game.”


About Marc Lemoine 1340 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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