NEW YORK — Blake Snell has been one of the best starting pitchers in the American League all season, but it's going to take a call to the bullpen for him to join Rays teammate Wilson Ramos on the American League All-Star team.
Despite leading the league with a 2.09 ERA, ranking second with 12 wins and posting a litany of other impressive statistics, Snell was neither elected by the players nor selected by Major League Baseball on Sunday night as one of the seven starters chosen and another already named as a replacement.
Talk about taking a cruel and unexpected loss.
That doesn't mean Snell won't end up going, and pitching, since the Tampa Bay Times has learned he is next in line as a replacement if there is another opening (which seems likely).
But it still seems like Snell got wronged.
"Disappointed is probably a good word,'' said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who was chosen as a coach. "I think you have to understand and maybe none of us totally grasp how this process or system works.
"I know we feel he is deserving. And hopefully, we've seen this in the past where guys for whatever reason don't end up going or can't perform, and hopefully Blake gets recognized and he gets that opportunity to do that. Because he probably should be an All-Star.''
As excited as Ramos was to be elected the starter by the fans, he also was disappointed to hear Snell wasn't automatically going with him.
"I'm not happy for that because he deserves to be in the All-Star Game,'' Ramos said. "He has good numbers. He has been really good all season. To me he's one of the guys that deserves to be there.''
The process to select pitchers is somewhat convoluted. Five starters were voted in by the players, who cast their ballots three weeks ago when Snell, after losing to the Yankees, was a less eye-popping 8-4, 2.58. Those choices are hard to quibble with: Justin Verlander (Astros), Corey Kluber (Indians), Luis Severino (Yankees), Gerrit Cole (Astros) and Chris Sale (Red Sox). That Snell has gone 4-0, 0.63 since made him somewhat a victim of bad timing.
MLB then named two more starters from its five picks, all from teams that had no other selections and had to be represented: Jose Berrios of the Twins and J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays. Outside of blaming other Twins and Blue Jays for not playing better (or Tigers, A's and Rangers, since they, too, needed named representatives), there isn't much that could be done there. That made Snell somewhat a victim of circumstance.
The final snub came when Verlander made it known he wouldn't be available to pitch and MLB chose Cleveland's Trevor Bauer (8-6, 2.45) to replace him. That made Snell somewhat a victim of, well, a bad decision? (Bauer, however, is lined up to start Sunday so may beg off, and Snell could then replace him, which maybe someone will claim was the plan all along.)
Snell had insisted whenever asked that he wasn't thinking much about the All-Star team because he knew a lot could happen, but after winning again Saturday he finally admitted how much it would mean to him.
"I'd be pumped,'' he said. "I'd be stoked obviously. It's something that's very cool and special for me and hopefully I'll have all my family and friends that I love there.''
When Cash told Snell Sunday he hadn't been chosen, he was obviously disappointed.
"Probably just a little bit of disbelief just given the fact that when you look at his numbers and how they've stacked up to all starting pitchers through the American League this year he's at the top of the list in so many categories,'' Cash said. "I thought he handled it well, mature beyond his years.''
Ramos had many reasons to be happy about winning the starting spot, the sixth time a Ray was voted into the lineup in 21 years, following Jose Canseco (1999), Evan Longoria (2009, 2010), Carl Crawford (2010) and Corey Dickerson (2017). Canseco and Longoria in 2009 were injured and didn't play.
"I'm so excited because I was waiting for this moment,'' Ramos said.
He was thrilled to get 2,359,726 votes, finishing nearly 1 million ahead of Houston's Brian McCann. To be rewarded for the hard work in recovering from major right knee surgery, hitting .289 with 12 homers and a team-high 47 RBIs. To be honored for a second time, having been picked for the 2016 NL squad. To get to return to play in Washington, where he spent part of seven seasons with the Nats.
And because he fulfilled a winter promise to his wife, Yely.
"As soon as we saw the schedule I asked my wife about the All-Star break, where were we going this year,'' Ramos said. "She told me, 'Don't ask me that, you have to make that team.' I promised her I would make it. And I did it.''
Cash was honored to be chosen for the second straight year as a coach, AL/Houston manager A.J. Hinch explaining: "I joked with him, he's got a ton of experience handling nine pitchers a game."
Snell, for now, has to wait, hoping another starter opts out, either because he is pitching the Sunday before or would rather rest. It happened last year when Rays Chris Archer was chosen as a replacement, so it can work out.
But Snell has done too well to have to be sitting home waiting for the phone to ring.
Contact Marc Topkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays