Tampa Bay Rays – Blake Snell Continues to Rise in 2018
Before this season, the hottest take in the off-season was that Blake Snell would have a better season than Chris Archer. I thought this was a bold statement because Snell was coming off a 5-7 record with a 4.04 ERA in 24 starts. To this day, Blake Snell is making a case for being in the top 10 pitchers list in the American League. Snell currently owns a 10-4 record with a 2.31 ERA and had the best start of the season (perhaps his career) on Monday night against the Washington Nationals. The southpaw hurled seven shutout innings of one-hit ball with 10 punch outs. With this meteoric rise, Snell is showing that teams should take notice of him.
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The main aces in the American League are Corey Kluber, Gerrit Cole, and Justin Verlander. Given that Blake Snell hasn’t made it to their level yet, he still has shown qualities of a pitcher who can win 20 games. Kluber’s strikeout pitch is his slider that evades opponent’s bats, Gerrit Cole has a fastball that induces more fly balls because of his arm side run, and Verlander’s four-seam has a rising action and generates a high number of swings and misses. Earlier this season, Snell’s getaway pitch was the 12-6 curve, but now we’ve seen an increase in his velocity that lets him use the fastball at his disposal. Blake Snell is evolving every time we see him start.
Snell’s Path to the Big Leagues
Snell was a rising star mowing through the minors, climbing from High-A Port Charlotte all the way to Triple-A Durham in 2015. Although Snell had an average rookie season in 2016, we saw flashes of what he can offer, like the old timer’s 12-6 curve ball. In 2017, Snell had trouble with his stamina, struggling to make it to the sixth inning. Snell is likely to make it to this year’s All Star Game. The last starting pitcher to be selected to the Mid-Summer Classic for the Rays was Chris Archer in 2017 as well as 2015. This seems like a passing of the baton since Arch has now been acting as a leader role in the clubhouse while he’s on the shelf.
Rays fans have something to look forward to in the next five years with their new youth movement. Snell is the reincarnation of David Price and Scott Kazmir, the pitchers that Rays fans were excited to see on the mound at the Trop. With the nasty curve and the velocity that Snell has built with his fastball, we are seeing an ace in the making.