street. Lewis – Their season may look like it’s heating up, but the Padres can still hand the ball to Blake Snell every fifth day. It remains to be seen if Snell can get San Diego back into the playoffs, but it sure looks like he’s headed for some serious solo hardware.
Snell cemented his case with Cy Young Monday night in St. Louis with seven scoreless innings in the Padres’ 4-1 victory over the Cardinals in the series opener at Busch Stadium. He was never at his best, issuing five rounds. But he clawed his way out of trouble all night—as he’s done all season, really—and led San Diego to a much-needed victory after a three-game losing streak in Milwaukee over the weekend.
“He was really good, and the fact that he got to seven was a big thing for us today as well,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “He threw over 100 pitches, he knew we needed it today and he was ready for that.”
In the process, Snell lowered his best major league ERA to 2.60, which would be the lowest mark by a San Diego player in a full 162-game season since Jake Peavy’s 2.54 mark in 2007. Of course, Peavy’s ’07 season remains his last. The time a Padres pitcher won the Cy Young Award.
Meanwhile, D-backs quarterback Zac Gallen — who may have been Snell’s primary contender for the award — was dealt the rough, allowing six runs over 5 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium as his ERA swelled to 3.32.
Make no mistake, Snell will happily trade places with Jalen, whose D-back currently holds the last Wild Card spot in the National League. Snell was evasive when asked about the possibility of a second Cy Young Award, preferring to keep his focus rooted in the present.
“Prizes only matter if we win,” Snell said earlier this month. “If we don’t win, I won’t think until the end of the season. Right now, I’m just trying to show the best I can, get us to win, get us into the post-season. From there, when the season is over, we can think about all of that. But for now, we’re We need to win every game.”
Actually, they do. The Padres trail the D-backs by seven games in the NL Wild Card race with only 30 games left to play.
“We have to get it together,” Snell said. “That’s something I know we can definitely do. We just haven’t. I really hope we can win here (in St. Louis), go home in front of our fans and achieve something.
Sunil does his part. His ERA leads the Majors, and he also leads the National League in batting average against (. 192) and runs batted in per nine innings pitched (6.16), while finishing second with 193 strikeouts.
Oddly enough, Snell also leads the Majors with 85 walks — and has the chance to make an odd piece of history if those trends hold. No pitcher has ever led the Majors in walks and ERA in the same season.
Monday night provided a perfect example of why Snell can make it happen. He walked two runs in the first, then made Nolan Arenado rebound on a double play at the end of the inning. He walked two more in the fourth, loading the bases with one out. Then he escaped with a pair of key hits.
“That’s what he does,” said Melvin. “It’s a strike waiting to happen. I don’t think he really panics in those situations. He gets a lot of swing and miss. Every time we see him in those situations, he’s probably as good as you get at getting that shot under two goals.
The case against Snell winning the Cy Young race is largely theoretical. His perimeter numbers indicate that he should allow more runs than he does, because he walks a lot of batters. His FIP rating of 3.74 is high for a Cy Young candidate.
But the fact is that Snell does not allow these lines of theory. He’s been left out of the bottlenecks all season, and his team-mates and manager insist it’s no accident.
“I think there’s an understanding in putting in the big performances,” said Snell, who was the 2018 AL Cy Young Award recipient with Tampa Bay.
In major league history, only Gaylord Perry, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, and Max Scherzer have won Cy Young Awards in both leagues.
Perhaps Snell is getting ready to join that very exclusive list.