Pirates fans will be surprised today I believe. Ian Snell will make his first start for the club since February. I think he will pitch very well. But it won’t matter to most fans, because it will be all NCAA hoops and Pens/Flyers today.
For those fans not glued to basketball or hockey action, the naysayers will be poised to strike if Ian has nothing less than a solid first game back after The World Baseball Classic. Ian has some proving to do to the Pirate fans. He has in some odd way, not engendered the trust of the average fan. Those loyal fans, really can’t figure him out. His quotes have been infamous and his performance inconsistent.
He led the Pirates in Innings Pitched, ERA, and K’s in 2007. Eighth in the NL in strikeouts. (He had 12 sacrifice bunts, which as we know is important in Pittsburgh, read the post below) It seems like he was solid early–he had a 1.59ERA in April, had a few rough spots after the All Star Break with a five game losing streak and then got better as the season ended. His final five starts he had a 1.64ERA. He was poised to make big noise in 2008.
It didn’t happen.
This spring Snell has only pitched 2 innings of work as he has participated in WBC. Snell was working very hard when we visited Bradenton. I am always impressed with his work ethic.
He sat with his fellow pitchers after doing about two innings of cardio work. Then he worked on arm strength near the entrance to the Pirates facility beside right field. When players would exit the game and head into the facility each would stop to talk, and joke with Ian. He would then continue to work on his strength and conditioning.
He is not your typical vision of a Major League pitcher at 5’11″. He just tries harder. I like that in a player.
His performance today will make another step toward becoming the pitcher all of the fans believe he could be. Will he be a number one dominant ace? Never. Could he be a nice four or five? Definently. Right now we need him to be our two or three that we can have consistent performances from during this season. The Pirates need it Desperately.
Team Puerto Rico should be playing today. The US ‘team of destiny’ made that amazing comeback. The fact that Snell is back sooner than he wished is an opportunity for Joe Kerrigan to spend some more time with a player the Pirates are relying heavily on in the rotation. Look for Ian to translate his work well today on the mound. I believe he will be impressive against the Reds young hitters. His arm is further along than most other pitchers, he could get up to 80 pitches today.