2023 MLB Draft: Paul Skenes bests Chase Dollander in heavyweight battle in Baton Rouge

March 31, 2023

Coined the pitching matchup of the season in college baseball this season, LSU righty Paul Skenes and Tennessee righty Chase Dollander laced up their gloves Thursday night for a heavyweight pitching matchup. Skenes and LSU would eventually reign supreme.

The highly-anticipated matchup between two arms almost unanimously considered two of the top-4 prospects for the 2023 Draft was eventually decided by an 8th inning that saw the Tigers plate three runs, pushing their lead to 5-2, the final score of the contest.

Skenes was downright dominant shoving 99-101 mph fastballs by Tennessee bats for the first few innings of the game, settling in 97-99 from the fourth inning on, drawing plenty of bad swings with his upper-80s slider along the way. He’d end his day after seven frames and 107 pitches, punching out twelve Volunteers along the way. Skenes allowed five hits, walked one batter, surrendering just one earned run. Through seven starts, Skenes owns a 0.81 ERA with 83 strikeouts over 44.1 innings. Through Thursday, Skenes has 24 more strikeouts than any other pitcher in the country.

Dollander was no slouch himself, though the Tigers made him work. The Volunteer righty came ramped up, sitting 97-98 through the first couple innings, settling in a tick or two below that in the fourth and fifth inning. Dollander threw 4.2 innings, striking out three batters. He allowed two earned runs on four hits and three walks. Fastball command forced Dollander into some long counts and free passes, pushing up his pitch count 89, unable to get out of the fifth inning. To date, Dollander has thrown 39 innings, punching 56 tickets along the way to a 3.92 ERA.

Considered the top prospect in the 2023 Draft, LSU outfielder Dylan Crews would end the day with one hit in four at-bats, sinking his batting average on the season to .529.

The hero from the game was LSU shortstop Jordan Thompson, a San Diego product revered for his glove and raw power. His 2-out, bases-clearing double in the 8th inning plated three runs, salting the game away for the Tigers. Thompson has seen his draft stock surge in recent weeks even before the big hit.

Joe Doyle
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