Why Blake Snell's early struggles might just be part of the process for SF Giants

San Francisco Giants v Tampa Bay Rays
San Francisco Giants v Tampa Bay Rays / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages

SF Giants fans had hoped that starter Blake Snell would be able to hit the ground running but that just has not been the case through two starts. The lack of a spring training and Snell's track record for slow starts might just be part of the growing pains.

Why Blake Snell's early struggles might just be part of the process for SF Giants

The Giants signed the two-time Cy Young winner to a two-year, $62 million pact late in the offseason. They had been connected to him for much of the offseason but were unable to get a deal done until the end of spring training. Snell had been hoping for a larger deal, though, that did not come to fruition.

This meant that Snell did not have the usual ramp up that pitchers tend to have in the spring. There is a reason that spring training is six weeks long and it is so that pitchers can build up enough arm strength to handle a normal workload. Plus, pitchers are routine-based with their preparation and anything that disrupts that could have a downstream effect on their results.

Of course, Snell had been throwing bullpens and pitching in simulated games prior to joining San Francisco. However, facing against advanced competition in games is arguably the best feedback loop that a pitcher can get. The hitter will usually convey how a pitcher is throwing based off of the contact or lack thereof.

Snell did not get that, so it is not terribly surprising that he has yielded 10 earned runs in just seven innings through his first two starts with San Francisco. For the lefty pitcher, he is still in spring training mode in some sense.

On the other hand, the slow start is a reminder for why teams usually like to have pitchers signed by the start of spring training. Adding Snell was a unique case, so that throws strategy and beliefs out the window. If a team has a chance to sign a topline starter, they need to do it.

In addition to this, the 31-year-old pitcher typically gets off to a slow start. He posted a 5.40 ERA through his first nine starts with the San Diego Padres last year and then followed that up with a 1.20 ERA in his final 23 outings of the year.

This is not uncommon for Snell. He has generally been a much better pitcher in the second half of the year. In nine seasons, he has a 3.82 ERA in the first half of the season compared to a 2.46 ERA in the second half.

So, Snell's typical rough start could be compounded by the lack of a normal spring training. It is a long season and there is still plenty of time for him to turn it around. Though, the slow start might be part of the growing pains that come with a strong finish.