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Inbox: What are Snell's chances for Cy Young?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers questions from fans
October 8, 2018

From where I sit, Blake Snell had the best season of any pitcher in baseball. I'm afraid he's not going to win the American League Cy Young Award, though, because he pitches for the Rays. Your thoughts? -- Tom S., St. PetersburgSnell did put together a nice season, didn't he?

From where I sit, Blake Snell had the best season of any pitcher in baseball. I'm afraid he's not going to win the American League Cy Young Award, though, because he pitches for the Rays. Your thoughts?
-- Tom S., St. Petersburg

Snell did put together a nice season, didn't he? I think he has a solid chance to win. In his final game of the season on Sept. 29, Snell received a no-decision after allowing one run on three hits and four walks while striking out 10. The left-hander finished the year at 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA. Houston's Justin Verlander, who appears to be Snell's main competition for the award, pitched six scoreless innings that same day, while also striking out 10, against the Orioles.
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Snell and Verlander each have pros and cons as an AL Cy Young Award candidate. Snell led the AL in wins and ERA, while Verlander led the league in strikeouts and starts.
Chris Sale of the Red Sox, Corey Kluber of the Indians and Luis Severino of the Yankees will likely get some votes as well. All Rays fans can do is wait and see. The results of the vote will be announced on Nov. 14.
I thought Matt Duffy did some good things this season, particularly after missing the 2017 season. But I'm disappointed that he didn't show more power. Going forward, I'd like to see the Rays have a third baseman who can hit some home runs. What's going on?
-- Bill P. Tallahassee, Fla.

Excuse me while I chuckle. Last offseason, I fielded a lot of email from fans expressing they wanted to see more contact from Rays hitters. This season, the Rays were not a homer-hitting team, but they made better contact.
As for Duffy, I talked to him at the end of the season. He told me he spent a lot of time rehabbing his heel, and that might have come at the expense of building up other areas of his body. Look for Duffy to add a little bulk in the offseason, and that could translate to more pop.
I'm excited about what the Rays did this season. I never could have foreseen them finishing at 90-72. If they won 90 games this year, just think what they can do in 2019. I can't wait until next season. I'm thinking Rays-Dodgers in the World Series.
-- Ted M., Tampa, Fla.

What this year's team did was remarkable. After the non-waiver Trade Deadline, they seemed to become the perfect blend of talent and chemistry, with a nice helping of the magical pixie dust.
I do believe the carryover effect could be great from such a run, but I don't think you can bet the bank on it. Winning 90 games is quite an achievement and not easily repeated. Having said that, I don't believe this is a team that will rest on its laurels. More than one player told me they were so eager for next season that they planned to take off a couple of weeks before starting to work hard in preparation for 2019. One player noted how nice it had been to look forward to arriving to the clubhouse every day. Not only were the 2018 Rays winners, they had fun while doing so.
Joe Wendle turned out to be quite a bargain, didn't he? I think he should be the AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, even if the other candidates play in bigger markets. The effort he showed every day was remarkable. Hats off to the front office for acquiring Wendle.
-- Anonymous
I'm with you, the Rays appear to have gotten quite a bargain in Wendle, who hit .300 in his rookie season. Looking back to last year's Winter Meetings, few paid much attention when the Rays acquired him from the A's for Minor League catcher Jonah Heim. Boy, did his play make people pay attention. Wendle played different positions, he hit, and he ran out every ground ball. I can't express how impressive he was from my view in the press box.
As for the AL Rookie of the Year Award, Wendle probably won't win based on his competition, but he should get some consideration.
Off the top of your head, do you see any interesting free agents who could improve the team during the offseason?
-- Bill B., Houston

Assuming the White Sox do not pick up James Shields' $16 million option for 2019 ($2 million buyout), the Rays and Shields might be able to figure out a way to bring him back to Tropicana Field. The veteran right-hander would bring innings and a professionalism that plays well in any clubhouse. A lot of stuff would have to click into place for both parties to buy into this one, but I think Shields would welcome a chance to end his career wearing a Rays uniform.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.