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Blake Snell re-emerges as Rays ace

After an off-year in 2019, Snellzilla is back to his dominant self in 2020

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 season marked Blake Snell’s coming out party. In a season where he dominated the league en route to his first Cy Young award, Snell established himself as one of the most exciting and dominant pitchers in the game. The following offseason, the Rays acknowledged his success and signed him to a five-year, fifty-million-dollar extension. Alongside Charlie Morton, who the Rays signed to a thirty-million-dollar deal earlier that offseason, Blake Snell was set to lead the Rays to October baseball for the first time since 2013, while also chasing his second consecutive Cy Young award.

The Rays did make the postseason, but Snell was unable to defend his Cy Young title due to a rash of injuries that pestered him throughout the year. Charlie Morton, on the other hand, was dominant and finished third in the Cy Young race. With Snell and Glasnow spending large chunks of the season on the IL, Morton took over as the ace of the staff and led the Rays back to the postseason.

This season, however, with Charlie Morton having injury issues of his own, Blake Snell has reclaimed his title of staff ace. Through 10 starts, Blake leads Rays starters with a 141 ERA+, 3.05 ERA, and is tied for first with Josh Fleming and Tyler Glasnow with four wins. Over the course of his 10 starts, the Rays are 7-3. When projected over a full season with an average of 30 starts, the Rays would theoretically go 21-9 over his starts, which is nearly identical to their record (22-9) whenever he took the mound in his Cy Young award winning campaign in 2018.

Since building back up after a quirky offseason and shortened spring camp, Blake Snell has made seven straight starts in which he has gone at least five innings. In those starts, the Rays are 5-2. He has consistently put the Rays in a position to win every fifth day, the primary role of an ace.

The Rays are at their best when Snell is locked in and dominating hitters every fifth day. With Morton and Yarborough on the mend and returning to form, as well as Glasnow and Fleming making starts on a consistent basis, the rotation is setting up to be a force to be reckoned with in October.

But, just as Charlie Morton did for the Rays in 2019 en route to October, Blake Snell has weathered the rash of injuries and led his staff to this point. Today, Snell will take the mound with a chance to clinch the Rays’ first division title since 2010 with a win against the Mets.

Tonight, Snell will take the mound head and shoulders above the rest, and the Rays wouldn't have it any other way. This is what they anticipated when they made him their fifty-million-dollar man.