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Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Paul Skenes, the game's top pitching prospect and the No. 1 pick in last summer's draft, will make his big-league debut on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. As CBS Sports recently detailed, Skenes has the potential to be an impact pitcher at the highest level. He has a nearly unmatched power arsenal that includes a triple-digit fastball, a swing-and-miss slider, and a newly minted sinker that pitch-classification algorithms confuse for a splitter.

Skenes' arrival, combined with Jared Jones' continued existence, means the Pirates will now feature two of the most exciting young starters in the game. Though overshadowed in the Pirates farm system by Skenes for the past year, Jones has begun his big-league career in brilliant fashion. Over the course of seven starts, he has amassed a 2.63 ERA (153 ERA+) and a 10.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His contributions have already been worth an estimated 1.3 Wins Above Replacement.

The Skenes-Jones combination got us thinking about some of the game's other best young duos. In turn, we decided to rank what we consider to be the 10 best young starting pitcher combinations. To qualify, both pitchers had to be in the majors (or on the injured list) and have this season qualify as their age-25 campaign at most. (We concede that 25 is a completely arbitrary number, but it allowed us to get to 10 tandems.)

Below we've ranked our duos in order of descending quality. These rankings are based in part on what the pair has done in the majors, and in part on what we forecast them to do heading forward. This is, obviously, more of an art than a science. If we had to guess, most disagreements with our rankings will be based on the description versus prediction aspect, as well as us not penalizing elite performers for being paired with less-than-elite partners. 

With all the fine print out of the way, let's get to it. 

1. Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Bobby Miller, Dodgers

After a rough first start in MLB, Yamamoto has settled in and demonstrated why he won three consecutive MVP and Cy Young-equivalent Awards to close out his Nippon Professional Baseball career. He's sporting a 1.76 ERA over his last seven times out, and he's not allowed a single run in four of his eight appearances. Miller, meanwhile, is out with shoulder inflammation after tallying a 3.90 ERA (112 ERA+) and a 3.61 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first 25 big-league starts.

2. Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder, Braves

If we had performed this exercise last summer, Strider and Elder might've ranked No. 1. As it is, they'll have to settle for second place. (And we would understand anyone who feels the Braves should be lower on account of them being a very...let's say lopsided combination.) Make no mistake: this ranking is almost entirely because of Strider, an elite performer with an electric arm. Unfortunately, he's not going to be pitching anytime soon after undergoing elbow surgery. Elder, conversely, has seen diminishing returns on his smoke-and-mirrors show since making the 2023 All-Star Game. In 16 starts since, he's compiled an ERA north of 5.00. 

3. Paul Skenes and Jared Jones, Pirates

Skenes is the only pitcher in this article who hasn't appeared in the majors, so this placement is all about our projection of him becoming a No. 2 starter or better. (Lest anyone get angry: we subscribe to the thinking that "ace" is a title that's earned, not given, and that there are at most a dozen pitchers worthy of it at a given time.) Jones has been outstanding, and would be the clear frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year were it not for Shota Imanaga and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Clearly these two have the potential to top this list sooner than later.

4. Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo, Mariners

Miller can lay claim to being one of the most underrated pitchers in the game. He gets overshadowed in the Mariners rotation, but he's a few starts away from clearing 200 career innings and he has a 102 ERA+ and a 4.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Not bad for a former fourth-round pick. Woo is closing in on returning from right elbow inflammation. He was surprisingly effective last season despite having one of the goofiest platoon splits you'll ever see over an 18-eight game stretch: he held right-handers to a .495 OPS while lefties torched him for a .928 OPS. 

5. Hunter Greene and Andrew Abbott, Reds

Greene can surely relate to Skenes. He too was an early draft pick with a big arm and bigger expectations. Maybe Greene's career hasn't played out quite as the Reds hoped it would (even with a strong opening to this season, he's sporting a career 101 ERA+), but he's been an above-average starter and he's in the midst of his best season to date. Abbott has been a sensation since arriving last June. In his first 28 starts, he's tallied a 121 ERA+ and a 2.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

6. Gavin Williams and Tanner Bibee, Guardians

With how well the Guardians have opened the season, you'd be within reason to think they're getting a lot of mileage from Williams, Bibee, and fellow young starter Logan Allen. Except they're not -- Williams hasn't pitched because of injury, and Bibee and Allen have thus far performed below replacement level. Go figure. We're not too concerned about any of the three over the long haul, as we think each of them should settle in as a mid-rotation starter or better. 

7. MacKenzie Gore and Mitchell Parker, Nationals

There was a time when it looked like Gore might not have a big-league career after developing the yips. Thankfully, those days are far behind him. He's been an above-average starter since joining the Nationals in the Juan Soto trade, punching out more than 10 batters per nine innings while walking fewer than four. Parker, a fellow southpaw, has performed well in his first five starts. We'd like to see more from him before we buy in fully, but he's done a great job of stair-stepping with a low-90s fastball, a curve, and a splitter that has generated an impressive 45.7% whiff rate.

8. Taj Bradley and Shane Baz, Rays

This ranking is based entirely on potential. We believe better days await Bradley, who accumulated a 75 ERA+ last season despite striking out 11-plus batters per nine innings and showing above-average control. Baz, on the other hand, hasn't thrown a big-league pitch since 2022 because of elbow problems. He recently started a rehab assignment and could return later this month. If Bradley and Baz stay healthy, they're a good bet to outperform this ranking. 

9. Kyle Harrison and Mason Black, Giants

This is a top-heavy duo. Harrison is a former top prospect who has performed well in the bigs, racking up a 112 ERA+ and a 3.26 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first 79 2/3 innings. Black just debuted last week. He's a low-slot right-hander who likes to spam the opposition with sweepers. 

10. Brandon Pfaadt and Slade Cecconi, Diamondbacks

Pfaadt hasn't maintained the momentum he enjoyed last October. He has, however, improved his ERA and his strikeout-to-walk ratio, in part because he's done a better job eliciting swings outside of the zone. Cecconi doesn't generate many chases or whiffs, but underlying metrics suggest he's performed better than his bloated ERA indicates. Stay tuned on that one.