Even though the Tampa Bay Rays fell to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, 9-2, Blake Snell continued his impressive spring campaign. The southpaw worked into the third inning in Port Charlotte and was charged with just a run.
Snell fanned two, and allowed a pair of base runners on a walk and a hit, all on 38 pitches (25 for strikes). Ryan Flaherty, the last batter Snell faced, led off the third inning with a single and eventually scored when Dan Runzler — who took the mound in relief after Snell reached his limit — allowed a two-run homer to Scott Kingery that tied the game at two. That was the first run charged to Snell in four spring innings.
While the results were good, Snell felt there was more room for improvement, especially over last season:
I’m more prepared, he said after. I came into this year, it was personal to me. Last year I came in not ready to go, not ready to be the me I’m capable of being. It was frustrating. This year it’s more personal for me, and I’m ready to go.
Rays manager Kevin Cash was again impressed by what he saw out of Snell:
Another really strong performance out of Blake. That’s always good to see.
You can hear both the hurler and skipper’s comments below (Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays):
Several others made their first Grapefruit League appearance, including Alex Colome, who gave up a run in the fourth on a pair of hits and a walk. Cash attributed the outing to illness, saying Colome was pitching with a low-grade fever, although wanted to get in his work.
He wanted to get his inning in, Cash said. He’s already been pushed back intentionally.
Sergio Romo also made his Spring debut and was solid in a perfect fifth.
The New What Next
The Rays will travel to the heart of Polk County, Lakeland, on Saturday where they’ll face Le Tigre. Chris Archer will get the start opposite Jordan Zimmerman. Anthony Banda, Jose De Leon, Hunter Wood, Dustin McGowan, Jose Alvarado, Adam Kolarek and Ryan Weber are slated to throw as well.
Rays 3/3/18 Starting Lineup
— Carlos Gomez, who agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract on February 21, is expected to join the team on Saturday.
— Travis Sawchick (FanGraphs) had an interesting take on the Rays move away from hitters like Logan Morrison, Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza Jr., reckoning they are moving away from hitters that struggle against the fastball.
According to Sawchick (by way of Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors) there is one common thread among the hitters they’ve let go: a susceptibility to whiffs against four-seam fastballs:
Corey Dickerson swung through more four-seamers than anyone in Major League Baseball last season by a wide margin, Sawchik notes, while Steven Souza was third on that list and Logan Morrison tied for seventh. Sawchik also notes that each of the three had declines in the season’s second half (though Morrison maintained above-average production). Replacements such as Carlos Gomez and especially C.J. Cron had fewer struggles against the fastball, he adds. Sawchik has written in the past about how the Tampa Bay organization emphasizes utilizing elevated fastballs as a weapon more than most other clubs, so perhaps that trend applies to both sides of the ball.