Is Blake Snell Finally Back?

San Diego Padres v Washington Nationals
San Diego Padres v Washington Nationals / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

On October 27, 2020, Blake Snell utterly dominated the Los Angeles Dodgers for 5.1 innings in Game 6 of the World Series. Much to his disappointment, he was pulled prematurely by Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash and his team went on to lose the game and the series. He was traded to the San Diego Padres that offseason and for most of the nearly two years since that Game 6 performance, the lefty has been an absolute mess on the mound. But based on what we've seen over the past few weeks, it looks like Snell might be back.

On Sunday, the 29-year-old former American League Cy Young winner shut down the Nationals as the Padres took a 6-0 win in Washington. He was brilliant over six innings, allow no runs, allowing three hits and striking out 10 while issuing no walks. He regularly pumped his fastball by the Nats, touching 97 and 98. It was the fifth consecutive excellent start from Snell, who has looked like a new man since the All-Star break.

Snell has made five starts since the break, he's pitched 28.2 innings and has posted a 0.94 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and has 39 strikeouts against five walks. He has allowed one or zero runs in six of his last seven starts and has 57 strikeouts in his last 37.2 innings. And lest you think he has solely been beating up on bad lineups like he did on Sunday, his previous four starts came against the Mets, Twins, Rockies and Giants.

Snell's turnaround is a huge development for the Padres. With Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury added to a lineup that already included Manny Machado, San Diego is well-position for a postseason run if the pitching holds together. Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish are top-of-the-rotation starters, if Snell is really back, that gives the Padres three frontline guys. Add in a healthy Mike Clevinger -- who has looked really good lately -- and the Padres have an outstanding staff. Even without the suspended Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego could be dangerous.

On the season, Snell's numbers look OK. He's 5-6 with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP after Sunday's performance. But in July he was 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP, and so far in August he's 2-1 with a 1.02 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP.

Things can still get away from Snell at times. He struggles with fastball control and tends to walk too many hitter. He did that in July, issuing 15 walks in five starts. So far in August he's kept that tendency in check, walking two in three starts. On the season, Snell is averaging 3.78 walks per nine which, if he qualified, would second worst in MLB. Given that he's been better lately, you can see just how bad things were a few months ago.

Since July began, Snell has been on a steep upward swing. That's great news for the Padres who could use all the help they can get in the middle of a tight Wild Card chase with Tatis out. Maybe San Diego is finally getting what it traded for when the franchise acquired Snell fresh off that World Series performance back in 2020.