The Tampa Bay Rays have been patient with their young players during the past few years. At some point, the patience must come to an end with Blake Snell.
As we head into the unofficial second half of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays find themselves in the playoff picture. Currently the second Wild Card team, the Rays are at a point where every game matters. They need to put together the best team they can, giving themselves the best chance to win.
At this point, it is debatable as to whether or not Blake Snell can be a part of that winning ballclub. He has not proven to be thus far in 2017, posting a 0-5 record along with a 4.85 ERA and a 1.635 WHiP. In his ten outings, spanning 52 innings, Snell has struck out 45 batters, but has also issued 34 walks. He simply does not have anything close to the command needed to succeed at the major league level at this point.
Those issues have not escaped notice. Despite his impressive stuff, Snell just does not seem capable of throwing strikes. Perhaps this is a matter of his overall command issues and problems repeating his delivery at times. Or, perhaps Snell simply does not trust his stuff, being afraid to throw strikes at this level.
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That latter theory seemingly holds water given his performance at Durham this year. Demoted due to his earlier struggles, Snell posted a 2.66 ERA and a 1.318 WHiP. In his 44 innings, Snell issued only 15 walks while striking out 61 batters. Obviously, he has confidence in his abilities in the minors.
While Snell may not have anything left to prove in the minors, the same cannot be said at the major league level. He has yet to translate that success into his starting role, with his 85 walks in 141 career innings with the Rays showing that lack of confidence. With the Rays contending this season, one has to wonder how much longer they can send Snell to the mount every fifth day.
The Rays usual patience with young players should not factor in at this point. Snell has had 29 starts in the past two years to show that consistency, and simply has not done so. He may be able to perform well in short stints in the bullpen, and could build up his confidence that way, but he simply does not appear to be a major league caliber starter. At least, not just yet.
Chances are, Snell will get a couple of more chances in the second half. However, if he struggles, it would not be a surprise if a move was made. Perhaps Brent Honeywell gets brought up to the majors, or the Rays trade for a starter. But Snell’s leash has to be getting shorter.
The Tampa Bay Rays cannot afford to be patient with Blake Snell right now. With a possible postseason berth on the line, they need pitchers that can help them succeed. Snell, at least right now, is not that.