Game 6 of the World Series saw a former Cy Young-winning pitcher get yanked after 5 ⅓ shutout innings, after logging nine strikeouts, and after giving up only two hits on only 73 pitches. That pitcher was Blake Snell, whose visible fury when getting pulled from the game was easily palpable. Two months to do the day after that outing, he was traded to the San Diego Padres.
Snell was showing his Cy Young form in that decisive World Series game. His control was pinpoint, his breaking ball was filthy, and the Dodgers’ notoriously potent offense looked baffled all night. When your ace is dealing the way he was, you simply don’t pull him.
The next three batters up were Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, and Justin Turner. That night, the three were 0-6 with 6 strikeouts. Why would you make a change?
To literally nobody’s surprise, immediately after Snell was replaced by Nick Anderson, Mookie Betts doubled, moving Austin Barnes to third base. Anderson threw a wild pitch and Barnes scored. Corey Seager drove in Betts on a fielder’s choice. The Dodgers went up 2-1, and never looked back.
Snell was hot after the game, and rightly so. “I just want the ball,” he said. “I am definitely disappointed and upset. I felt good. I did everything I could to prove my case to stay out there, and then for us to lose, it sucks. I want to win, and I want to win the World Series, and for us to lose, it just sucks.”
Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts was clear that they were as mystified as we were when Snell was pulled. “Mookie looked at me and smiled” when Snell exited Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I was pretty happy because he was dominating us and we just weren’t seeing him.”
Corey Seager echoed a similar sentiment. “He was tough all night,” Seager said. “You tip your cap to him. He threw a hell of a ballgame. He had us off-balance, he made pitches — we didn’t really have an answer for him. Once he came out, it uplifted us a little bit, for sure. We started feeling a little momentum, we scratched a few runs and we ended up winning.”
Snell should be thrilled with the move. Instead of being on a roster that seems more committed to perpetually rebuilding than it does to winning, he now moves to the Padres, who have an elite young core centered around Fernando Tatis Jr. and are pushing their chips into the middle of the table to win. Snell joins a pitching rotation of Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack, new addition Mike Clevinger who will miss 2021, and it seems as though they are close to acquiring veteran Yu Darvish as well. They’ll be good in 2021. They’ll be downright lethal in 2022.
Individual moments in sports can change the course of history. Pulling Blake Snell early from a dominant World Series Game 6 is one of those moments.