Rays lefty and reigning American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell is scheduled to return to action next week, he tells reporters including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links). Snell will take the ball on Tuesday with the expectation of throwing about three innings.
Snell last appeared in late July, at which time he was sidelined with loose bodies in his pitching elbow. He has been working back since undergoing surgery to alleviate the issue. The absence has been a bit longer than initially anticipated.
It’s great news for the Rays, who’ll allow Snell to get his competitive rehab work in at the MLB level. There aren’t any more Triple-A games for Snell to appear in. And the Rays’ adaptable pitching staff is accustomed to covering for short starts and bulk appearances.
Snell will join righty Tyler Glasnow in returning with partial availability. Unlike Glasnow, who had been firmly on the rise when he hit the shelf, Snell had taken a step back early in the season. Through 101 innings over his twenty starts to this point, Snell carries a 4.28 ERA.
That said, the Tampa Bay organization has every reason to believe that Snell can get back to being the monster he was in 2018. He had been much the same pitcher by most measures — if not better. He maintained a 3.1 BB/9 walk rate while raising his strikeout game (12.1 K/9, 17.8% swinging-strike rate) and lowering his xwOBA (.263).
There isn’t much time left for Snell to build up his pitch count. He’ll be able to make three total outings before the end of the regular season, so it’s reasonable to presume he’ll still be climbing northward come crunch time. But he’d likely be nearing full availability. And if he goes every fifth day, Snell will be on turn to start the Wild Card game.