Blake Snell isn’t having a bad year. Opening the season with a limited-by-design workload, he is 3-1 with a 3.74 ERA through eight starts for the Rays and has had no arm or health issues overall.
But he goes into tonight’s start against the Red Sox knowing he can be better.
“It’s little things,” Snell said. “I feel really good. I feel like I’m where I need to be. I feel like I’m about to turn a corner and do what I feel I should be doing already. I’m excited about that.”
Some of those “little things” have been mistake pitches that hurt a lot, as he’s allowed eight homers in his 33 2/3 innings. Of note, he has not allowed a homer to a Boston batter since 2017 (Mookie Betts), and has thrown 40 1/3 innings against them since.
Another is walks. Though 12 overall isn’t bad — especially paired with 45 strikeouts for a career-best 3.75 strikeouts-to-walks ratio — the timing has been costly.
“How I feel physically with how I’m maturating my pitches, I feel really good about it,” Snell said. "I still think there is one inning when I have a hiccup and I’ve got to clean that (up), so whatever I’ve got to do to do that, I’m going to make sure I do it against this good lineup.
“I’ve got to be able to control the zone, get ahead and make quick innings so I can go as deep as I want to go in this game.”
Getting deep is another issue for Snell, who hasn’t gotten through six innings since before surgery last July to remove bone spurs from his elbow. He has since made 11 regular-season starts (plus one in the playoffs along with two relief appearances).
Snell is confident in the adjustments he made since his last start on Saturday in Miami. He said has plenty of respect for the Sox hitters, knowing how dangerous they are, and figures they will be a good test. “Their lineup is good,” he said. “I’ve got to be on my game.”