Tonight’s game against the Orioles is a Snell Game, where the Rays will hand the 24-year-old former first-round pick (52nd overall) his 12th start of the 2017 season.
By many metrics, it has been a less-than-ideal season for Blake Snell. He is winless on the season, and his ERA (4.98) has jumped nearly a run and a half from his rookie 2016 season. Considering his reputation (Snell was the no. 1 Rays prospect after the 2015 season, according to Baseball America), his starts lead more to frustration than anticipation these days.
I have been as guilty of this as anyone. I rated him the least-fun player on the Rays, and that ranking originally had a joke that was (correctly) deemed too mean and ended up cut from the article. It’s easy to pile on Snell. He doesn’t go deep into games, he seemingly doesn’t care when he takes another loss, and he seemingly hasn’t shown any signs of growth in his 30 career starts.
It’s time to pump the brakes.
Snell is, again, a 24-year-old who has made 30 career starts. And now I’m going to blow your mind: Snell has been eerily similar to David Price over his first 30 career games.
Don’t believe it? He’s a comparison of their numbers:
Snell vs. Price first 30 games
Price had a slightly lower ERA, but Snell has him beat by FIP, and the command issues that Snell has had don’t look as bad when put next to Price in terms of strikeout-minus-walk rate.
Now, Price has four relief appearances in those first 30 games, and he still managed more innings pitched, but Snell had an innings cap towards the end of last season, and the game is changing towards shorter and shorter outings, anyway.
Not being able to get into the sixth should no longer be considered as big a deal, especially with bullpens the size they are today.
Snell certainly hasn’t blown the doors off this 2017 season, but it’s time to take a step back, realize that we are still dealing with quite a small sample size when it comes to Snell’s potential career as a whole, and cut the guy some slack.
David Price blossomed into the best pitcher in franchise history despite a rookie season in which he posted an ERA of 4.42 and had a K:BB ratio under two (1.89 to be exact). Great things are still possible for the young lefty.
Blake Snell deserves our patience right now.
Hattip to fellow DRB writer JT Morgan, for this observation.