Blake Snell throws immaculate inning in rehab start

May 12th, 2024

Ever wonder how dominant a reigning Cy Young Award winner could look if he was transported back to Single-A? did just that – and it was as unfair as you might expect.

On a rehab assignment with Single-A San Jose as he eyes a return from the injured list, Snell began his day with an immaculate inning – three strikeouts on nine pitches – and dominated all the way through, punching out seven across four perfect innings against Stockton.

It made Sunday’s matinee an unexpected nightmare for the Ports lineup, who made Snell throw just 46 pitches without sniffing a baserunner against the two-time Cy Young Award winner. In addition to his immaculate first inning, Snell punched out five of his first six batters and seven of his first eight.

Immaculate innings are rare feats in the Majors. For all his accomplishments, Snell has never thrown one. Only two pitchers did in 2023: Pittsburgh righties Johan Oviedo (May 24 vs. Rangers) and Colin Holderman (May 4, vs. Rays). No big league pitchers have accomplished the feat yet this season.

Snell’s first inning Sunday was over in a flash. He punched out prospects Ryan Lasko, Cole Conn and Myles Naylor on nine pitches. Snell did allow the first batter of the second inning, Luke Mann, to make contact, inducing a harmless flyout. Then he struck out the next four hitters.

Even for a pitcher who has struck out 11.1 batters per nine over his nine-year big league career, it was video-game type stuff.

Perhaps it is a sign of good things to come for Snell, who has had a rough start in San Francisco since signing a two-year, $62 million deal to join the Giants in late March. The left-hander then went 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA over his first three starts before landing on the injured list with a left adductor issue in late April. He resumed playing catch a few days later and threw a bullpen at Oracle Park before embarking on Sunday’s rehab start.

Snell is already eligible to return from the IL, so the hope was he could do that in short order if Sunday went well. In short, it did. After his outing, Snell threw 15 more pitches in San Jose’s bullpen to get his day total closer to his goal of roughly 60, indicating that he might be near returning to the big leagues and the Giants’ rotation very soon.