Pitching has been a strength of the San Diego Padres all season long, and it’s honestly part of the reason why they’re in the National League playoff picture right now.
In a season where Fernando Tatis Jr. has been out, and will be out, for the entire year, the Padres’ offense has endured plenty of peaks and valleys, with the latter severely hurting them at times. They’ve dropped games to flat-out bad clubs, made below-average pitchers look excellent, and before adding the trio of offensive pieces at the deadline, this offense was torpedoing in the wrong direction.
Thanks to one of the league’s best pitching rotations, which is full of prominent names, the Padres are 13 games over the .500 mark and they’ll always have a quality arm on the mound to compliment this “new look” offense.
A name that’s been absolutely dominant for San Diego since the calendar flipped to July?
That’s right: Blake Snell.
The ‘Summer of Snell’ is in full effect, as the Padres’ southpaw has been one of the league’s most dominant arms over seven starts since July 1st. He’s allowed one run or less in six of those, his lone blemish taking place at Coors Field, and has punched out 67 batters across 42 ⅔ innings in that span, including three starts with 10+ strikeouts.
Perhaps his most dominant showing came yesterday against Washington, where Snell punched 10 tickets and scattered three hits over six scoreless frames, walking none. He did whatever he wanted with the Nationals’ lineup – blowing 96-97 mph heaters by them, spotting his swing-and-miss upper-80s slider in all quadrants, or landing that beautiful rainbow of a low-80s curveball for strikes. Their first batter to reach second base, Cesar Hernandez, came in Snell’s final inning of work.
Snell’s comfort and confidence to throw both of his breaking balls at any point in an at-bat is what makes him special. He’ll mix either in whenever and if they’re not working, he’s able to reach back and fire high-90s heat from the left side, which is always a good alternative.
We’ve seen Snell do this before in a Padres’ uniform. Last year, over a seven-start stretch in August and September, Snell punched out 65 batters over 44 ⅔ innings, allowing just nine total earned runs. Because of the sheer raw stuff that he has, Snell is capable of dominance at the flip of a switch.
Snell couldn’t be heating up at a better time. In the midst of a playoff run, the Padres need every bit of positive production they can get, and adding a dominant Snell to a group of Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Mike Clevinger makes this rotation even more dangerous. Should they make the playoffs, San Diego has plenty of options in a three-game series with how their rotation is currently shaking out.