When the 2018 season began back in late March no one would have believed that any one on the Rays pitching staff would be in contention for the Cy Young Award which is given to the best pitcher in each league.
But here we are in the last week of the 2018 season and Blake Snell has put himself in contention for the award given to the best pitcher in the AL.
Coming off a 2017 season in which Snell went 5-7 with a 4.04 ERA, no one would have believed that it would all come together for Snell this quickly.
After all Snell was so bad the first half of last season that he was optioned to Durham midway through the season to work on some things and get his confidence back.
Snell was plagued by command and control issues last season walking five batters every nine innings.
This season there has been no such issues as Snell has been rock solid from opening day and has already set a record for wins by a Tampa Bay Rays pitcher with 21, and that could be 22 as he will get one more start this season.
Snell’s main competition will come from Chris Sale of Boston and possibly Corey Kluber of the Indians. But Snell’s ERA of 1.90, and 21 wins are better than any pitcher that he is in competition with. In the 176 inning he has pitched, Snell has 59 walks and 211 strikeouts.
The one thing that will hurt Snell is his innings pitched. Due to his time on the DL earlier in the season with a shoulder strain, he is at 176 innings pitched right now with one more start coming this week. When Snell was activated off the DL, Cash would only let him go 5 or 6 innings and even though he is 100 percent healthy he has not pitched into the late innings of any game.
I believe Snell has meant more to his team than any other pitcher that he is in competition with for the Cy Young Award. Snell has had to go it along much of the season as the Rays started the 2018 season with Chris Archer and Jacob Faria In the rotation but by late July the rotation was Snell and Tyler Glasnow. With trades and Faria going to the DL, Snell has been the one constant on this team.
In Boston Sale is just one piece of a solid rotation. David Price and Rick Porcello are the other top two starters in Boston. Sale’s chances for the Award have also been hurt as he has been on the DL the last 4-5 weeks of the season and was just recently activated.
The same in Cleveland with Corey Kluber as the other two solid starters are Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. Bauer has been on the DL since mid-August and that kind of took his name out of the running for the award.
You could also make a case for Snell for MVP, as he has I think been more valuable to his team with the supporting cast that he has been given than any other player. He won’t win it but his name should be given consideration.
The last pitcher to win both the CY Young and MVP was Justin Verlander with Detroit in 2011, and before that you have to back to 1992 when Dennis Eckersley won both awards for the Oakland A’s.
I think Snell has done enough to win the award, It’s just a matter of how the voters will look at his innings pitched and his other metrics which will determine the outcome.
The award will be announced on November 14th.