That's the question right now. What do you do with him? It's obvious you have to pull him from the rotation. But do you keep him on the team and move him to the bullpen, or do you designate for him assignment and cut ties with him completely?
He has seemed marginally better as a reliever than as a starter. But he won't be back next year. He's got a $6.25 million option for next year, and the Mariners would never exercise that.
Snell lasted just 1 2/3 innings and allowing eight runs on seven hits in a 12-2 loss to the Rangers.
Yes, it’s been that bad for Snell and for the Mariners, who fell to 23-36 – 13 games below .500 – the most this season.
In his last three starts since being re-inserted back into the rotation, Snell (0-5) has failed to go more than 5 1/3 innings, allowing a total of 15 runs and 14 hits and walked nine hitters.
And it doesn’t seem like he’s going to be able to turn this around.
When asked after Wednesday’s shellacking about Snell’s status in the rotation, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu was non-committal.
“We’ll have some discussions and make a decision in the next day or two,” Wakamatsu said.
It seems difficult to find any circumstance under which Snell would stay in the rotation. The Mariners simply can’t count on him for an average start, let alone a quality start.
In eight starts, he’s gone just six innings once – and that was the first one of the season in Oakland.
The latest start, and possibly his last for awhile, didn’t make it two innings and was his worst of the season.
“I sucked it up out there,” he said. “Nobody can blame this on the team … I can take this on myself.”
The Mariners gave Snell a rare 2-0 lead before he stepped foot on the mound. Jose Lopez and Josh Wilson each ripped RBI doubles in the first inning off of Rangers starter C.J. Wilson to give Snell a little cushion.
But that cushion was erased immediately. Snell gave up a solo home run to Michael Young and an RBI double to Vlad Guerrero in the bottom of the first as the lead was erased in a matter of minutes.
“You come out and score two runs and feel like you’re going and then you give it right back with the two,” Wakamatsu said. “But we still felt like we were in pretty good shape.”
That feeling would only last for another half an inning.
Snell imploded in the bottom of the second. After striking out Justin Smoak to start the inning, he gave up singles to Max Ramirez and Julio Borbon. He then got Elvis Andrus to line out to right giving him two outs.
For a moment, it appeared that he would get out of the inning unscathed. Snell got ahead of Young 0-2. But he hung an 83-mph slider right over the middle of the plate that Young jumped on and lined into center field for an RBI single.
“That pitch, if it’s six inches down, but that ball is up in the zone where he likes it and (Snell) got hurt by it,” Wakamatsu said.
Snell didn’t think it mattered where the pitch was at in the zone.
“To tell you the truth I don’t think any pitch would have made any difference,” he said. “He got the bat the ball and it found the spot in the outfield. That’s how it was all night for us.”
Well that’s how it was all night for him. And it only got worse after the Young hit.
Ian Kinsler and Vlad Guerrero followed with RBI singles, Kinsler scored on a wild pitch and then Snell gave up a two-run homer to Josh Hamilton to right-center.
When Wakamatsu finally came to get him, the Rangers had put up six runs in the inning and were leading 8-2.
“Six runs in the second deflated us a little bit at that point,” Wakamatsu said.
Indeed, 10-run swings are kind of momentum killers. The Mariners also did nothing after that first inning, scoring no more runs and getting just two more hits.
Lefty Luke French came into replace Snell – basically an impromptu audition for Snell’s spot in the rotation – and pitched well. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. Normally a starter, he’d come into the game having thrown just 1/3 of an inning since being called up on June 6.
“He looked a little more refined,” Wakamatsu said. “He’s in better shape and his delivery looks cleaner.”
Did he look good enough to replace Snell’s scheduled start on June 14 – the opener of the series in St. Louis?
“Possibly,” Wakamatsu said. “That’s his first long outing up here. We were able to stretch him out, and he gave us that option.”
But even if French fills the spot in the bullpen, there’s a question of what do with Snell?
There’s no questioning his talent. He has better velocity and natural stuff than French, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Vargas and Doug Fister. It helped him to win 14 games with the Pirates in 2007. But since then he’s been woefully inconsistent. And his confidence has been just as up and down as his outings. He asked to go to Triple A at the start of last season with the Pirates after struggling. And now he might be struggling worse.
This is wasn’t what general manager Jack Zduriencik envisioned when the Mariners acquired Snell and Jack Wilson in the middle of last season in a trade.
He thought a change of scenery and a better team would help Snell find some consistency and confidence on the mound. He’s shown hints of it at times, but it’s been few and far between.
Even Snell isn’t sure what to do.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not really too worried about it. Maybe it’s a lack of confidence. It’s alright I will keep my held high and just keep getting after it. That’s all I can do. I’m not going to sit and complain about it.”
But there has to be something more than that.
“I don’t think it’s really a command issue,” Snell said. “But it’s being touchy and trying to be too perfect around the plate instead of just throwing the ball and letting them hit it or overpowering them. That’s how I came up just throwing the ball over the plate and trying to let the hit it and either striking them out or getting a hit. Maybe that’s my problem.”