Rays News

Tampa Bay Rays: Blake Snell Returning to Rotation

By Althea Pashman
May 3, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
May 3, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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After a demotion to Durham, Blake Snell has shown enough progress that the Tampa Bay Rays feel confident that he is ready to return to the rotation.

The inability to take command of his game resulted in Blake Snell‘s demotion to Triple-A Durham where he has since found success, showing the Tampa Bay Rays that his time was well spent and that he is ready to return to the majors.

The Rays today announced that Blake Snell will be recalled later this week to make his first start since his May 14 demotion toeing the rubber against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.

Moving out of the rotation is Erasmo Ramirez who heads back into the bullpen. To accommodate Snell on the roster, the Rays will need to make a corresponding move, which is likely to come Wednesday.

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The Rays demoted Snell after a very unimpressive 0-4 start with a 4.71 ERA to begin the season in which Snell had major difficulties, of which some were his inabilities in throwing strikes, command of his pitches and pitching deep into games.

The move was made to help Snell work on the issues in a less pressured environment which has more or less paid off though having not accomplished everything.  However, it was enough to warrant a return.

Snell went 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA in seven starts for Durham where the most improvement has come from the quality of his pitches – that is the ability of throwing strikes and cutting down on his walks.

In his seven starts at Durham, Snell’s K/9 rate was 12.5, averaging almost nine strikeouts per game as compared his to 7.3 rate before his demotion. In 44 innings pitched,  Snell recorded 61 strikeouts compared to having only 34 strikeouts in 42 innings in his eight starts. As for his walks, Snell had a walk rate of 5.4 per game (25 in 42-IP) and that dropped to 3.1 at Durham where he walked just 15 in 44 innings.

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However, two areas that did not show much improvement was his ability to pitch deeper into games and his pitch count – which go hand-in-hand.  In his seven starts, Snell had one start in which he went eight innings, two going five innings and four going six innings. All of his starts with the exception of one resulted in having a pitch count of 100 or more.

“He owned that he needed to go down, that he needed to reset a little bit,” Cash said. “I know he put in a lot of work with Durham pitching coach Kyle Snyder. Kyle and I have talked pretty routinely about his outings, and there’s been just a constant show of progress. So we’re excited to have him back up here.”

Cash acknowledged that Ramirez was not happy about the decision to move him back to the bullpen, but the fact is he will be an asset going forward.

"“We can all appreciate that. At the end of the day, we’re not viewing this as a demotion, we’re viewing it as something that will help our club. But for him to feel that way, I can understand that.”"

Upon his move into the rotation Ramirez looked steady in his first two starts in which he had allowed just four runs on 10 hits in 11.1 innings of work. However, called into an emergency relief situation on a night before his scheduled start, which came during the Rays 15-inning game against the Twins (he picked up the save), Ramirez was not the same in his following five starts.

In those five starts, Ramirez logged 22.1 innings, giving up 23 runs of which 21 were earned while pitching to a 8.46 ERA. As a starter, Ramirez in seven starts was 2-2 (34.2-IP) with a 6.49 allowing 27 runs (25 earned) on 44 hits with 29 strikeouts and walking 10. Overall on the season, Ramirez is 4-2 with a 5.01 ERA, one save, with 47 strikeouts and 14 walks.

Next: Should Stephen Vogt be an Option?

Snell’s return to the rotation will give the Rays a big boost, especially if the results are as good as what he showed while with Durham.

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