Rays starter Blake Snell hadn’t allowed a baserunner through five innings Friday in Toronto when he was removed from the game. He had thrown just 47 pitches to that point.
You might think Tampa Bay’s ace, an All-Star, would be upset with pitching coach Kyle Snyder telling him his night was over when he was 12 outs away from history. Nope.
“I’m not going to argue. Kyle wants what’s best for my career, future-wise and everything,” Snell told reporters (per Tampabay.com). Snyder, not manager Kevin Cash, reportedly made the call. “I felt great, but I haven’t gone five innings in a month.”
In fact, Snell was making just his second start since coming off the disabled list after a bout with shoulder fatigue. He lasted four innings on Aug. 4, although he threw 59 pitches that night. He went just three innings on July 12 in his last start before going on the DL. He threw 1 2/3 innings in the All-Star Game on July 17.
Tampabay.com reported Snyder was concerned with Snell getting up and down five times Friday.
Snell’s fastball was in its usual mid-90s and he pounded the zone (33 of his 47 pitches were for strikes). “To be able to do that and be as consistent as I wanted to be with my pitches was something I was very excited about,” Snell said, per Tampabay.com.
The early hook was easier to accept after the Rays had blanked the Blue Jays 7-0.
Snell became part of baseball lore anyway: He is now the fourth major league pitcher since 1920 (the start of baseball’s “live ball era”) to be taken out after five or more perfect innings.
The Rays’ caution with the 25-year-old Snell is understandable. The left-hander is now 13-5 with a 2.18 ERA during a breakthrough 2018 season. He’s the lone proven starter still on the roster after Tampa Bay traded Chris Archer and Nathan Eovaldi in late July. He’s not subject to the team’s “opener” strategy, which can delay a starter’s entrance to as late as the third inning.