Padres: Blake Snell continues to put stress on the bullpen

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

When you have a bullpen as potent as the San Diego Padres, you can get away with asking for just five innings from your starter. But given what the Friars gave up to land Blake Snell this winter, the left-hander needs to start being more efficient in his outings.

On Saturday, the veteran southpaw allowed two runs (one earned) over five innings of work against the San Francisco Giants. He struck out six and walked three – and that wound up being enough to notch his first win as a Padre.

"“I’m doing OK, but there’s always better,” Snell told after the victory. “I’ve just got to go deeper into the games, which is [about] consistency in the strike zone. … Lot of work to do. But we’ll do it, and we’ll get there. I’ll continue to grow and get better.”"

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To be clear, saying Snell needs to go deeper into games isn’t to say he hasn’t been solid for San Diego. He’s made a half-dozen starts this season and has allowed more than two earned runs just one time en route to a 3.51 ERA and 3.60 FIP.

The Padres are 3-3 in Snell’s six starts this season – and the bullpen has had to eat a ton of innings in those ballgames. They’ve clearly answered the call in just about every way imaginable, but over the course of the season, you’d like to get more depth from your key starters to reduce the workload on those arms.

Padres have asked a lot of their bullpen so far this season

The starting rotation ranks third entering play Sunday in terms of ERA at 2.64, trailing only the division rival Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers. That’s due, at least in part to the dominance of Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish who have emerged as early NL Cy Young candidates heading into the month of May.

Dinelson Lamet has been a non-factor, Adrian Morejon is done for the year and Ryan Weathers is working his way back from injury right now. Both Lamet and Weathers threw bullpens on Sunday at Petco Park – and getting these guys back and healthy will take a load off the staff.

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But as the season progresses and Snell gets his feet further under him, going five innings every time out isn’t going to get the job done. San Diego needs him to work deeper into games and until he does, fans aren’t going to be satisfied what he’s doing on the mound.