When Blake Snell won his first Cy Young Award in 2018, he largely praised the Rays for signing him, developing him and turning him into a dominant starter.
Traded after the 2020 season – and his controversial withdrawal from Game 6 of the World Series – to the Padres, Snell won another Cy Young on Wednesday.
And he thanked the Rays again.
Snell said his dazzling performance in an emotional outing against the Rays on June 17 in San Diego — his first time facing pitching coach Kyle Snyder, manager Kevin Cash and other members of the Tampa staff Bay who he was close with – was a critical moment in turning his season into something. historical. He finished 14-9 with a major league-best 2.25 ERA, becoming the seventh pitcher to win the prestigious award in both leagues.
“Being able to pitch in front of those guys was honestly pretty emotional for me,” Snell, 30, said Wednesday during a media conference call. “I was so excited. In front of them, it was like home. This is where I grew up. I was a little kid there. All these staff raised me to be a man .
“Just summing it all up together was quite an emotional moment for me. So in that moment, in that beginning, I had one of the best feelings I’ve ever had while throwing. I remember that, and I just remember how excited I was to be able to throw in front of them again. This game, it’ll probably be one of my favorite games I think I’ll ever run.
With a 1-6 record and a 5.40 ERA as of mid-May, Snell had shown some signs of improvement. Starting in the Rays game — in which he struck out a season-high 12 in six shutout innings — he went 12-3, 1.30.
Snell, now a free agent, was an easy winner over Arizona’s Zac Gallen and San Francisco’s Logan Webb in the National League, receiving 28 of 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
He joins an impressive group of winners in both leagues: Gaylord Perry, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roy Halladay and Max Scherzer.
“It’s amazing,” Snell said. “I don’t really know how to accept awards and not look to the future. So really, it feels good, and I’m trying to appreciate it more than the first one I won. It’s really special. It really hits me to have my family around me, because that’s when I really notice what I’ve accomplished.
After going 25-26 with a 3.85 ERA in the four seasons between awards, Snell said it was different than how he felt when he won in 2018 for the Rays , when he was 21-5, 1.89.
“In 2018, I was a child. I thought I was going to win 40. I thought I was invincible. I thought winning the Cy Young was exactly what I was going to do every year,” he said. “You’re young, and that’s how you think: I could do it again. I feel good. I’m just getting better.
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“So spending these (four) years fighting every year to be the best version of myself and saying I’m going to do this and what that entails. This season I’ve kind of learned what it takes to win a Cy Young now, and understanding the rhythm and tempo that you have throughout a season is really what’s going to allow you to win a Cy Young or stay where you can. be the best version of yourself and get a chance to win one.
“I understand myself a lot better,” Snell continued. “I don’t get angry at things that I shouldn’t get angry at anymore. I’m not trying to be perfect. I’m just trying to be the best version of myself, and in doing so, I feel like this year has worked out in a pretty magical way.
During Wednesday’s awards show, MLB Network showed a clip of Snell’s reaction (his mouth blurred for lip readers) to Cash removing him from the series game, then cut to Snell laughing as he looked at the monitor as he was brought up again.
Snell said he looks back fondly on his time with the Rays and stays in touch with them, saying, “I hold (the trade) over their heads, just as a joke.” The deal didn’t work out well for the Rays, as they were left with only minor league pitcher Cole Wilcox. They parted ways with pitcher Luis Patino, catcher Francisco Mejia and minor league catcher Blake Hunt.
“I will always be sad to get traded, because I loved Tampa so much,” Snell said. “I love everything about Tampa. I will never have anything but love for Tampa. We’ve all talked about it a little bit, and it’s been a long time and now it’s kind of gone. … Cash and I still love each other, we talk all the time. He texted me; I should probably answer him. (Erik, President of Baseball Operations) Neander texted me. Everyone there has texted me, which is amazing and makes me feel so good inside.
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