The San Diego Padres’ worst nightmare came true Sunday when Blake Snell left the game with “left adductor tightness” after throwing just 11 pitches.
This is very bad timing for both the Padres and Snell, as they are in a crowded playoff race and he was just starting to turn his frustrating season around. Following a terrible outing against Oakland on July 28th, Snell sported an ERA of 5.44 through 84 1/3 innings, with an elevated walk rate of 14.3% (this year’s league average is at 8.7%). However, since then, Snell got back into his Cy Young form, throwing 44 1/3 innings with 65 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.83, improving his walk rate to 8.6%.
Snell has been dominating the last 7 games, and maybe it’s because of a change to his repertoire.
The Cy Young winner used to attack the hitters with a high fastball, curveball and his changeup, but in his last few games he has become a two-pitch pitcher, utilizing his fastball and his slider. His slider usage is up to 34%, according to Baseball Savant.
In his six August starts, Snell posted a 1.72 ERA, 2.61 FIP and struck out 38.8% of hitters, which led baseball over that span. The only other pitchers to post above a 38% strikeout rate in any single month this season are Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Corbin Burnes, Shane Bieber and Freddy Peralta. That’s pretty elite company.
It’s nearly impossible to maintain a 1.72 ERA, but his slider has a whiff rate of 45.8% ranks 6th among all starters with opponents hitting just .156 against the pitch. He had a problem beginning the year allowing a lot of home runs of his fastball, which he’s been using over 50% of the time, but after increasing his slider usage, his pitching has been great.
After yesterday’s game, Jayce Tingler said Snell is probably day-to-day, that maybe they were lucky and they caught it on time, and the next couple of days will indicate the real time of his absence.
Jayce Tingler was asked what happened to Blake Snell that caused him to leave the game early: pic.twitter.com/qkdoSfB2IB— 97.3 The Fan (@973TheFanSD) September 12, 2021
He added that this injury is something Snell has dealt with in the past, but it usually comes in 6th or 7th inning, but this time came up too early. Snell was walking a little bit better after the game, and depending on the treatment they will have to wait and see the next couple of days.
Hopefully Snell can return to the lineup soon, because if the Padres are going to see postseason baseball this year, Snell has to make a comeback.