I watched a little bit of Ian Snell's debut as a Mariner last night and I have to say I'm impressed. He was a pulled after six and gave up two solo homers, which I will get to in a bit.
I like his stuff, its true strikeout material. His fastball is a straight and hittable, however he was locating it pretty well last night. That will be a key to his success, location and command of his heater.
His slider is nice sharp pitch that can be extremely effective when he is ahead. He seems to have scrapped his curve, as I know he had one when he was with the Pirates. His slider is an above average pitch.
When I was watching, I saw very few changeups. I checked out Jeff's review at Lookout Landing and I saw why. Apparently only 1 of his first 46 were changeups (I remembered a few more but whatever), but 23 of his last 48 were an offspeed pitch. Jeff thinks it was part of Rob Johnson's game plan, which if it was, kudos to Rob.
I saw the David Murphy home run and I can't say I was surprised. It was a 3-1 fastball thigh high and middle in. Batters, particularly lefties, love that pitch, and Murphy hammered it.
I didn't see the Michael Young homer but I could see it coming. I even told my brother that Young would homer later in the game (I won $5). In Young's first at bat, he saw a good 6 or 7 pitches on a strikeout. Of those pitches it was something like 4 fastballs, 2 sliders and a change.
One thing you don't want to do is show a good hitter like Young all your stuff in their first at bat. Now you have nothing to surprise him with later in the game. Snell learned that the hard way last night.
Ian Snell's stuff is so good there is no reason he shouldn't a legit No. 1 starter. Next year don't be surprised if Rick Adair resurrects Snell's curve. Orel Hershiser once said "If you can control and command 2 good pitches, you can compete. 3 pitches, you can win, 4 pitches you can dominate."
The other thing Snell needs to figure out is a way to get left handed hitters out. Whether it be by learning a new pitch or new game plan, it has to happen for him to have great success.
If Snell can learn a 4th pitch, preferably one that can get lefties out consistently, there is no reason why he can't become Felix Hernandez v2.0
Yes, I'm serious.