Blake Snell had to have seen 2022 as an opportunity for a bounce-back. After infamously being pulled by Rays manager Kevin Cash with a one-run lead in the sixth inning of a decisive Game 6 of the 2020 World Series, the lefty was dealt to the Padres in a blockbuster that December. He struggled to find his groove in San Diego in 2021, battling through an inconsistent season for a disappointing Padres team and finishing with a 4.20 ERA, a 3.82 FIP, and a 3.74 xFIP. He must have been eager to put his middling Padres debut behind him when he prepared for his first start of 2022 on April 10, but he was scratched during his pregame bullpen session, hitting the injured list and making way for then-Padres prospect (and current Washington National) MacKenzie Gore to make his major league debut.
No, the comeback would have to wait. Snell would have to endure rehab starts in Fort Wayne, Indiana, then Lake Elsinore, California, and then El Paso, Texas before rejoining the team on May 18 in Philadelphia. He would have to suffer eight team losses in his first eight starts, during which he posted a 5.13 ERA, 3.71 FIP, and 4.04 xFIP and finished the sixth inning just twice. And in his final start before the All-Star Break on July 14 in Colorado, Snell walked six and allowed five runs over 3.2 innings. He walked his final three batters of the first half, forcing in two runs.
But you wouldn’t have known any of that last Wednesday night, when Snell took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Petco Park against the Cardinals, one of the league’s most potent offenses, finishing the night with a career-high-tying 13 strikeouts over 7.0 scoreless innings. The performance was the crown jewel of a second half during which Snell has pitched himself back into the conversation as one of the league’s most dominant lefties – and one of San Diego’s October X factors. Read the rest of this entry »
This is Chris’ first piece as a FanGraphs contributor. Chris is a data journalist based in Boston. He started his career working in baseball, first as a media relations intern with the 2014 Cubs and then with the Red Sox media relations department from 2015 to ’19. In addition to thinking about baseball, he reports on data topics ranging from education to climate to COVID-19 for U.S. News and World Report. Chris has long used FanGraphs to describe what data journalism is to confused friends and family.
The baseball fan’s proposition is a delicate balance. We’re asked to tune in for 162 games that are of relatively little individual importance to the team’s World Series chances, an act of faith anchored somewhat in the premise that “anything can happen” in the postseason. If your team is able to survive the regular season grind, the game assures you, they have a shot to bring home the ultimate reward.
But with less than three weeks to play, the 2022 regular season is looking a little flat from a competitive standpoint. The playoff field, with its new three Wild Card structure, is looking relatively set, and this year’s regular season is shaping up to have been, well, mild when it comes to non-home run chase drama. Read the rest of this entry »