Blake Snell set to begin latest comeback when Giants face Jays

Reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell is trying to squeeze a two-start week into the six remaining days before the All-Star break.

Snell’s first outing will come on Tuesday night when the host San Francisco Giants open a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The series matches a pair of teams currently under .500, but both are hoping to build some momentum before taking baseball’s in-season vacation next week.

The Giants have won three of their past four series despite a rough schedule. They took three of four games from the Chicago Cubs and two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers on their last homestand, then won two of three against the Atlanta Braves to begin their just completed six-game road trip.

San Francisco beat the Cleveland Guardians 4-2 on Friday before falling 5-4 on both Saturday and Sunday to wrap up the trip.

“I thought we played well. We’re in every game,” Giants manager Bob Melvin said. “But with a .500 trip, (we) would have liked to have done better.”

While the Giants remain three games under .500 at 44-47, their improved play as of late can be traced to the improved health of their starting staff. Kyle Harrison returned from an ankle injury to start on Saturday in Cleveland, and now Snell (0-3, 9.51 ERA) is set to reappear after missing the past five weeks due to a strained left groin.

The “comeback” start will be Snell’s third of the year. The first two didn’t go well.

After getting a late start to the season because he didn’t sign with the Giants until late in spring training, Snell allowed three runs in three innings in his season debut, an 8-1 home loss to the Washington Nationals on April 8.

Snell later landed on the 15-day injured list on April 24 with a strained left adductor, missed four weeks, then returned to serve up four runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 9-5 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 22. Snell did not factor into the decision in that outing.

Again, he was healthy for just three starts, this time suffering the groin injury that has had him sidelined since June 3.

Snell, who used to pitch in the same division as the Blue Jays during his time with the Tampa Bay Rays, has made 14 career starts against Toronto, going 4-4 with a 2.74 ERA.

This comeback will be against a team that, coincidentally, also played a pair of 5-4 games over the weekend. In the Blue Jays’ case, they won them both at Seattle, escaping with a 2-1 series win to kick off a nine-game Western swing.

Toronto now features someone with whom Snell will be totally unfamiliar with, having promoted one of its top prospects — 23-year-old Leo Jimenez — last week. The middle infielder has two hits, a walk and a hit by pitch to show for six big-league plate appearances so far.

“He was an on-base machine in the minor leagues,” said Isiah Kiner-Falefa, whose sprained left knee opened the door for the promotion. “Hopefully, he can get off to a fast start and get some results, and from those results, build that confidence and start a great career from there.”

The Blue Jays have chosen left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (4-8, 4.12) to start the series opener.

Kikuchi has faced San Francisco just once, coming away with a no-decision after giving up three runs and six hits in six innings on April 2, 2021. He struck out 10 in that outing.

–Field Level Media