Photo: Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire 

Have you checked out The Paul Skenes Experience yet?

The Pirates rookie is baseball’s latest phenom. He’s 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA in eight starts heading into a matchup with Max Fried and the Braves on Saturday.

Skenes throws a fastball 99 MPH with considerable movement. Opponents are hitting .140 against a splitter that averages 94 MPH. He’s struck out 34% of the hitters he’s faced, the 4th-highest rate among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched.

When you’re facing Skenes you need to be ready to take advantage of anything you can. The Pirates’ defense has shown a few holes in his eight starts. They’ve been charged with -4 Runs Saved on the batted balls against him.

But Skenes has done something in his pitching approach to help limit that damage beyond a strikeout-to-walk ratio that’s nearly 8-to-1. He gets the ball to the plate quickly.

SIS does frame-by-frame analysis of video to ascertain when a pitcher makes his first movement with a man on base and when a pitch hits the catcher’s glove. Our average times may not jibe with those of others who are often using stopwatches to do similar tracking. But we feel confident in the precision of our numbers.

The average time for a pitcher from first move to their pitch hitting the catcher’s mitt, combining all delivery types that we categorize (slide step, full leg kick, in-between a slide step and leg kick) is 1.62 seconds for a right-handed pitcher and 1.67 seconds for a left-handed pitcher. We show you this down to hundredths of seconds because every hundredth of a second matters when it comes to basestealers.

Skenes, who has almost entirely used either a full kick or something in between a slide step and full kick, ranks 19th in time to plate at 1.46 seconds. That’s among more than 450 pitchers with at least 50 measured times to the plate. Skenes is not at the level of Yankees reliever Ian Hamilton (MLB-low 1.32 seconds), but he’s still very good. 

The payoff for Skenes is that he’s very hard to run on. In those eight starts, there have been only 2 stolen base attempts against him (one successful, one not). He’s picked one runner off.

At a time when teams are stealing bases at higher frequencies than they have in decades, pitchers who can limit the running game are at a premium. Skenes is one of them. It’s another way that facing him is almost unfair.