On Friday, August 10, the Blue Jays will open a three game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Marco Estrada and Blake Snell will take the ball for their respective teams.
Blake Snell caused an uproar in the baseball community this year. The uproar, though, was directed in support of the young starter. Many baseball minds—including his teammate Chris Archer—openly questioned the decision to leave the Rays hurler off of the AL all-star team. The uproar was successful, as the pitcher eventually was named to the American League all-star squad later in the summer.
The lefty has mixed between incredible consistency and big blow-ups. For example, this season he has made 17 starts that allowed two earned runs or less. However, he has also had three poor starts, giving up five earned runs twice, and four earned runs once.
The southpaw’s remarkable season hit a snag recently. On July 23, the Rays placed the young starter on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to July 20. Snell was put on the shelf due to left-shoulder fatigue.
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The first time all-star has had an excellent season thus far. Through 21 starts he has compiled a 2.27 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 1.073 WHIP, and 176 ERA+. In total, he has been worth a great 2.3 fWAR. Interestingly, despite the season just flipping over to August, he has been worth 0.4 fWAR more than last year.
Although he has had dramatically different results, the southpaw has not changed his pitching repertoire much. The left-hander has mixed between a four seam fastball, change-up, curveball, and slider this season.
Snell has thrown his four seam fastball 53.8% of the time this season. The heater is quite fast, posting an average velocity of 96.29 mph—but it is also quite flat. Interestingly, the four seamer has walked a lot of batters—producing 36 walks to just 38 strikeouts. As well, the pitch’s .249 BAA and seven home runs against are not that inspiring.
The left-handed hurler has changed speeds on batters 18.51% of the time this season. The off speed pitch drops off the batting plane well while approaching the plate. Unlike most change-ups, the lefty’s change uses its movement to create ground balls, not miss bats. This season the pitch has produced worm burners at a good rate of 48.84% of balls in play.
The Rays hurler has broken off curveballs 17.12% of the time this season. The big breaker is not a classic 12-6, but more of a sweeping, cutting breaking ball. The movement has been quite deadly, creating whiffs at a crazy rate of 48.24% of swings. Indicative of this extreme swing-and-miss movement, the breaking ball has produced 54 strikeouts and just two walks.
Snell completes his pitching repertoire with a great slider 10.6% of the time. The breaking ball is hard, averaging a speed of 88.6 mph, while cutting and dropping hard out of the zone. The pitch has been unhittable, producing a .093 BAA with 37 strikeouts.
Part of the left-hander’s success this year has come from producing a high amount of strikeouts. Through 21 starts he has managed a 28% K-rate and 10.02 K/9. However, he has also allowed an above average amount of walks, maintaining a 10% BB-rate and 3.59 BB/9.
The Blue Jays have not had much success against Snell in limited experience. The best on the team, Kevin Pillar, has gone four-for-ten with two doubles against the 25-year-old. However, Russell Martin has taken the collar in six at-bats and Kendrys Morales has managed just one hit in nine at-bats.
Toronto has drawn a difficult match-up for the first game of the series. Blake Snell is quickly making a name for himself in the major leagues. However, the left-handed hurler is also still coming off of an injury—and he will be under a pitch limit. Marco Estrada will look to out-duel the all-star on Friday.