After taking a 3-2 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers were tasked with solving Blake Snell in Game 6. In the midst of a dominant postseason, he was given an early lead courtesy of Randy Arozarena’s solo home run in the top of the first.
Snell promptly struck out the side in the bottom half of the inning, fanned two more in the second, got Mookie Betts swinging in the third, and again struck out the side in the fourth.
Through five innings, Snell had limited the Dodgers to just one hit. His 73rd pitch on the night was lined into center field by Austin Barnes for a one-out single in the sixth inning.
He was the last batter Snell would face as Rays manager Kevin Cash emerged from the dugout and summoned Nick Anderson into the game without any hesitation. It was a questionable decision that wound up sparking a late rally for the Dodgers, as they scored three runs against the bullpen to come away with a 3-1 victory.
During an appearance on the “Starting 9 Podcast,” Walker Buehler added to the chorus that Cash’s early hook of Snell shifted the World Series in favor of the Dodgers, via Barstool Sports:
“It changes the complexion of it, right? You’re kind of staring down the barrel of that guy running down our offense. I don’t think we were lacking in the confidence that our offense would kind of crack the code and figure it out in some way. They’ve done it so many times in the playoffs and kind of brought us back late in so many games. But when you’ve got a Cy Young winner that’s throwing 97, 98 mph, left-handed and he’s landing three other pitches, it’s going to be a long day. It just happened to be not as long as we thought it was going to be.
“He was still pretty damn good. It is what it is. I think the biggest thing is, if there’s an organization in baseball that has the right to go and get whoever they want whenever they want, it’s Tampa Bay. That’s what they do all the time. They’ve been consistent, they have whatever they decide to make their decisions off of, and they make them. The guy they brought in was a pretty good reliever. Our guys went and scored two runs quick, but that guy could’ve got our guys out and just rolled through us too. I just think that’s how they play. It’s obviously worked for them in some capacity if they pushed us to six games in the World Series.”
Cash was criticized for his decision to pull Snell, but as Buehler pointed out, the Rays often went to their bullpen early during the 2020 season — a strategy that benefitted them more times than not.
Anderson arguably was the Rays’ most-trusted reliever in high-leverage situations, but struggled against the Dodgers, allowing the inherited runner to score before giving up the go-ahead run.
Betts also was relieved when Cash removed Snell from his outing. “It was kind of like a sigh of relief,” Betts said at the time. “Had he stayed in that game he may have pitched a complete game. I don’t know exactly what would’ve happened, but he was rolling.
“He was pitching really, really well. That was the Cy Young Snell that came tonight. “Once he came out of the game it was a breath of fresh air.
“We’d had some pretty decent at-bats off their bullpen guys, so we figured we could scratch one across since we saw the bullpen guys a little better. Snell, got to tip your cap. He did amazing.”
Snell traded to Padres
The Dodgers will get more looks at Snell next season as he was recently traded to the San Diego Padres for a package of prospects. The 28-year-old joins a starting rotation that also will feature Yu Darvish after he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs.
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