The 2023 season is a big year for Blake Snell

Padres Blake Snell

Credit: USA Today Sports

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Padres Blake Snell
Credit: AP Photo

This coming San Diego Padres season will be huge for Blake Snell.

The former Cy Young Award winner is due for free agency at the end of the 2023 season. This will possibly allow Snell to cash in on a potential 100 million dollar payday this winter. If the lefty enjoys success in the coming year, he will be a hot commodity during the next free-agent market. That is a big if, though.

Consistency has proven to be an issue for Snell, and he will need to rectify that in order to get paid top dollar.

In 2022, Snell went 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.203 WHIP after a groin injury sidelined him to begin the year. He returned in May, striking out 171 batters in 128 innings, and made 24 starts for the Padres. The main issue with Snell boils down to pitch count and innings pitched per start. Six times last season, he couldn’t make it through five complete innings. During those starts, the bullpen is taxed, which is not beneficial for the Padres when it comes to a lengthy season.

The vibe Blake Snell brings to the Padres clubhouse is infectious. He is the type of player in which you’d like to get to know more about. The native of Seattle is interesting on several levels. From his live streams playing video games to his classic interviews with Don Orsillo and Mark Grant, Snell is entertaining.

The problem for the Padres is that the left-handed pitcher is also entertaining on the mound. His starts are a mixture of pure dominance and utter frustration. Watching him pitch is like watching a fast car drag race. You are on the edge of your seat and want to see more. Snell is capable of baffling an opposing team’s lineup and also capable of imploding on the mound.

Thankfully, the implosions of Snell seem to be limited when it counts. This past playoff season, he recorded two wins for the Padres (NLDS and LNCS) and was dominating late in the season, fueling the Padres’ run in the postseason. You honestly feel that we have yet to see the best from this pitcher. If he can put it all together and throw 30-plus starts, he may approach the numbers amassed in 2018 for the Rays.

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The 30-year-old pitcher has ace-like abilities, and his K rate states that fact. Snell is averaging 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings in his seven-year career. With 188 more innings pitched, that average would qualify Snell for third all-time in the history of the game. That is higher than Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Nolan Ryan, to name a few. Pretty amazing and indictive as to what kind of potential he brings to a team.

The strikeouts are awesome, but at the same time, Blake Snell averages almost four walks per nine innings which is a recipe for disaster when it comes to pitches per innings. You like to see the southpaw strike batters out, but the reality is Snell is more effective when he pitches to contact and goes deeper in games.

In 159 career starts in the major leagues, Snell has only thrown seven innings or more in 20 of them. He has only pitched in the eighth inning a handful of times and has never pitched in the ninth inning at the major league level. Blake Snell does not own one complete game in his career. That is head-scratching.

During Snell’s Cy Young Award-winning season of 2018, he pitched seven innings or more in seven of the 31 starts. The season before, he went seven innings five different times. His strikeout rate in those two innings was barely above nine and two few than his current major league average. Snell was pitching to contact when needed and going late in games.

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Expect Ruben Niebla to further the advancement of Blake Snell. His stuff is unhittable at times, and only his lack of consistency is keeping him from making the jump to the next level. Heading into a contract year, Blake Snell is poised to enjoy his best season in the majors. The Padres would welcome that kind of production as the franchise has World Series aspirations.

It is unclear if the Padres have explored an extension for Snell before the 2023 season. Yu Darvish is also a free agent, and the team seems to be saving money to attempt to sign Juan Soto long-term. Blake Snell is a priority for the Padres. His value is hard to gauge, though as the coming season will have a lot of say in his future income in the league.

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