In the final year of a five-year, $50 million contract, the San Diego Padres and Blake Snell are coming to a crossroads in their relationship. However, Snell's start to the 2023 campaign is not only likely making the Padres think about the future, but the present as well.
San Diego Padres receive another rough start from Blake Snell
On Wednesday against the New York Mets, Snell recorded his third consecutive questionable start in three outings. His time on the mound against the Mets included giving up a pair of homers and walking five batters, part of a day when New York also tacked six hits and four runs on him in 5.0 innings. The number of walks and the presence of the long ball are concerning following the same recipe for a lack of success in his previous start on April 6 at Atlanta (four walks in 3.2 innings, along with a home run as part of four runs and six hits allowed).
Simply put, that type of pitching isn't going to cut it for the Padres if they trult want to compete for the top of the NL West this season.
As pointed out in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Snell's career numbers point to his improvement as the season goes along (4.13 ERA/1.373 WHIP in 82 career starts (421.0 innings, prior to Wednesday)) before the All-Star break versus 2.68 ERA/1.118 WHIP in 68 starts (349.2 innings) after it. There is hope for what is to come for the 30-year-old southpaw, but the Padres don't have the luxury of waiting and hoping too long in a deep National League pool of postseason contenders.
The Padres also don't have a lot of options when it comes to Snell, unless they choose to skip his next start (tentatively set for Tuesday at home against Atlanta) and go with a five-man rotation. But that's an extreme idea and one that likely won't enter into Bob Melvin's mind. It's also one that doesn't solve the problem unless side work could somehow correct the issues that Snell is facing.
Snell knows there is a problem, talking about how he needs to get back into the strike zone after his outing against the Braves. However, that wasn't a step that was taken in Queens, meaning the Padres will hope to see it from him in his next outing.
This time of year, hope springs eternal for most MLB teams. Hope, however, can also keep you from accepting that something needs to change. Yes, it's early, but the clock has to be ticking for Snell to get things right and get them right soon.