Blake Snell‘s tremendous 2015 season is beginning to draw to a close, as dictated by his workload. He is currently at 129 innings pitched, his career-high by 14.2 frames, and the standard 20% innings increase per year would leave him with 138.1 innings on the season, leaving him with 9.1 more in the year. How many of those innings, if any, will come for Snell in his major league debut? That is one of the burning questions for the Tampa Bay Rays with September 1st just a day away.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 4, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 2
For the third straight start, Blake Snell tossed exactly 5 innings giving up exactly 1 run. This time he dealt with 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6 as he held the Knights to that lone tally on the scoreboard. His 84 pitches were his most since the end of July as he wasn’t quite able to keep up his efficiency from his last few starts, but it is difficult to quibble about anything beyond that. Snell’s ERA went up to 1.60 with the Bulls and 1.33 on the season over the course of this game. When 1 run across 5 innings isn’t good enough, you have probably done some things correctly.
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Snell is certainly running out of innings, but the Rays likely wouldn’t ask him for many anyway. It will be interesting to see whether he makes his next start with the Bulls, but even he does, he could potentially be used in stints as little as 1 or 2 batters in the major leagues. Lefty batters have had no idea how to deal with Snell this season, hitting to a just a .119/.176/.198 line against him with 64 strikeouts against 9 walks in 137 plate appearances, and having him as a second lefty to complement Xavier Cedeno would be a nice touch. Snell couldn’t make a David Price-esque impact in that role, but it could be a way for him to throw extremely limited innings while still creating a buzz in the Tampa Bay Rays’ clubhouse.
Jim Miller struck out 5 in 2 innings behind Snell, but he also allowed 1 run on 3 hits. Kirby Yates then got past a walk with 2 strikeouts in a hitless frame before C.J. Riefenhauser struck out the side while giving up a hit in the ninth. Offensively, meanwhile, Richie Shaffer went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, Joey Rickard went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI, and Taylor Motter had a 1-for-3 game with a double and 2 runs scored.
Double-A Southern League: Mobile BayBears (ARI) 7, Montgomery Biscuits 0
This game was rough all-around for the Biscuits. Austin Pruitt started and had one of his rare bad outings, allowing 6 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings. Ryan Garton then managed to work around a hit and a walk with 2 strikeouts in his inning before Kyle McPherson gave up 1 run in the last 2 frames. Montgomery was also held to just 3 hits in this one, with Cameron Seitzer and Jake DePew each going 1 for 2 with a walk while Thomas Coyle went 1 for 3.
Low-A Midwest League: South Bend Cubs 4, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2
A critical error let in a pair of unearned runs in South Bend’s 3-run second inning, and the Hot Rods’ 3-run eighth still left them 1 run short. Yonny Chirinos was excellent aside from that frame, tossing 7 innings giving up 4 runs, 2 earned, on just 3 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was even 8-4. The unearned runs make it easy to overlook just how good he was in this game. Chirinos is one of the biggest sleeper prospects in the system after a year where he has a 1.74 ERA and a 58-10 strikeout to walk ratio between Short Season-A, Low-A, and High-A.
It’s kind of funny that Kyle Bird then didn’t look great, giving up a pair of walks while striking out 1 in his 2 innings, but didn’t give up a single run. In any event, the Hot Rods scored 3 runs in this game despite managing just 2 hits. Alec Sole and Bralin Jackson each went 1 for 3 with a double, with Jackson adding a walk and a run. None of those hits came in the 3-run eighth as Bowling Green was helped out immensely by 3 South Bend errors.