There is no questioning Blake Snell‘s stuff on the mound. However, for him to get where the Tampa Bay Rays want him to be, he may need to trust his pitches more.
Considered a consensus top prospect in the game heading into 2016, Blake Snell was expected to be a key part of the Tampa Bay Rays future. With his four pitch mix, featuring his sinking fastball, the future looked bright for the Rays phenom. There were concerns with his command, but it was expected that as he gained more experience, he would improve.
That improvement has not come at the Major League level. In his 110.1 innings, Snell has issued 66 walks. His command has taken a step backwards this season, as he has walked a league leading 15 batters in his 21.1 innings thus far. That lack of command is certainly concerning.
It has certainly grabbed the attention of manager Kevin Cash. While he has generally been happy with the young pitcher, he wants to see Snell lasting deeper into starts. As just five of his 23 starts for the Rays have lasted more than five innings, one can understand where Cash is coming from.
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The problem with getting Snell to pitch into the sixth or seventh inning consistently has been his command. He does not seem to have issues getting to two strikes on a batter, but the problems come with putting the opposition away. Instead of trusting his stuff, he starts trying to be too perfect, looking to paint the corner. It is, in a way, similar to the issues that Jeremy Hellickson had with putting batters away.
Of course, there are those times where Snell has virtually no idea what the ball is going to do when it leaves his hand. That was on display yesterday, when he threw just 39 of his 87 pitches for strikes, walking five batters in his five innings of work.
The biggest problem may be his ability to trust his offerings. It is a common problem for young pitchers, no matter how bright of a prospect they may be, to trust the stuff that got them to the Majors in the first place. While Snell could use some sharpening with his command, that trust would be a major step towards being able to become the pitcher the Rays hope he can be.
Kevin Cash wants Blake Snell to pitch deeper into games. In order for that to happen, the Tampa Bay Rays starter needs to start trusting his stuff more.