Tingler playing long game with Snell's usage

April 25th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- The parallels, if nothing else, are fun to make.

on the mound, facing the Dodgers, leading by a run with one out in the sixth, when he gets a seemingly quick hook before his bullpen implodes behind him.

But -- and this is the important part -- Saturday's game between the Padres and Dodgers in Los Angeles was not Game 6 of the World Series with Snell's team facing elimination. It was the Padres' 23rd game on a 162-game calendar.

"Short answer: We've got 139 more games to go," said Padres manager Jayce Tingler when asked about his decision to lift Snell on Saturday. "There is going to be a time and place where we go full throttle. I just don't believe it’s right now, with 139 left."

Snell had thrown just 87 pitches and retired Max Muncy for the first out of the sixth inning when Tingler emerged from the visitor’s dugout. Afterward, Tingler said Snell was on a limit of around 90 pitches. The Padres have indicated they'll be cautious with the lefty's workload this season -- sensible enough considering Snell only once eclipsed 130 innings during his tenure in Tampa Bay.

After he was lifted by Rays manager Kevin Cash last October, Snell was vocal in saying how much that decision affected him. That said, Snell has also been vocal in his support of the Padres' plans to slow-play him this season. Not to mention, Snell wasn't exactly dealing on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium the way he was dealing six months ago in Arlington.

"That's what he felt was best," Snell said of Tingler's decision. "I need to make better pitches throughout that to not let him make that choice to take me out."

The Padres' organizational philosophy regarding Snell -- who has dealt with left elbow and shoulder trouble in the past -- is unflinching. They're taking the long view. Tingler is certainly on board. But it's not exactly his call, and thus it would be unfair to saddle him with broad criticism for the team's handling of Snell.

Then again, it's certainly fair to question Saturday’s specific decision by Tingler to remove Snell when he did. If Snell was below his pitch count and had recorded a quick out to start the sixth, why not let him try and work through the bottom of the order? Tingler has spoken of wanting to use extra off-days to his advantage with Snell. But Snell was already working with an extra day's rest on Saturday night, and he'll likely get two extra days of rest before his next start.

If nothing else, Saturday's decision just reinforces the idea that the Padres will always err on the side of caution with Snell -- at least in the early stages of the season.

"There's going to be a time where he goes 100-110 [pitches]," Tingler said. "We're going to wait until he's got some starts underneath him, he's been built up and been on a roll. Right now, I don't think on April 24 I really wanted to push that."