Snell's Giants debut set for Monday vs. Nats

April 4th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- Giants fans won’t have to wait much longer to see reigning National League Cy Young Award winner make his first appearance in the orange and black.

Manager Bob Melvin announced that Snell will make his season debut against the Nationals at Oracle Park on Monday.

The Giants carried Snell on their Opening Day roster, but he’s been unavailable the first two turns through the rotation after signing a two-year, $62 million deal on March 19.

Snell threw 71 pitches and struck out 11 while facing the Giants’ Double-A team in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Friday, but the Giants wanted to get him one final tune-up before officially folding him into their starting rotation. The 31-year-old completed his ramp-up by throwing approximately 75 pitches over five innings in a simulated game at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Snell faced Giants teammates Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater and Tyler Fitzgerald, giving him a taste of big league competition for the first time this year.

“I haven’t been hit facing Double-A guys because when I go out there and pitch, it’s more just missed bats, missed bats,” Snell said. “Today it was good to make mistakes, see it get hit and then learn from it. I was really happy with that, too.”

Snell said his slider is typically the pitch that takes the longest to lock in, so he focused on throwing it to righties on Wednesday.

“It’s been more cutter-ish, so I’m trying to get it to be a slider and seeing what they see, what I need to change to get more depth out of it,” Snell said. “And then I threw a changeup to Yaz. I’ve never thrown changeups to lefties, so that was really cool. He saw me push two and then I threw a good one and he swung over the top. Learning.”

The Giants would have loved to introduce Snell into their rotation during their current series against the Dodgers given his track record of success against them -- he has a 2.59 ERA over 13 career starts vs. Los Angeles -- but he felt he needed more time to build up following his protracted free agency. Rookie left-hander Kyle Harrison started the series finale and tried to help the Giants avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of their archrivals.

“I love playing the best teams,” Snell said. “I’m just not ready. There’s no point to push it this early. Everything I did in the offseason was to get ready. I did the best I could. You just can’t simulate being here every day. I feel good to go now. That start, towards the end, my fastball started jumping up more, so I was happy with that. The last outing I had [on Friday], I was like, ‘I’m kind of tired.’ There’s a lot of good that came from today. I feel a lot more confident in my legs and my strength. I’m really looking forward to continuing to get better.”

Snell played under Melvin for two seasons in San Diego, which he said made it easier to communicate and devise a pitching progression that he was comfortable with. Snell tried to keep himself ready by building up to four innings on his own, but he realized he needed more work once he joined the Giants during the penultimate week of Spring Training.

“You get here, and you’re like, ‘I’m not where I thought I was,’” Snell said. “And you can’t lie to yourself. It really helped that I’ve known Bob for a while and we trust each other. That helped me a lot.”

“We kind of know him well enough to know that he needed this one,” Melvin said. “It would have been probably a little quick to jam him in there today in a big league game.”