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Looking Under the Hood at Blake Snell’s Fit in Seattle

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Does the hurler have it together enough for us to support him?

MLB: World Series-Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Dodgers
wipin some of that famous spiro’s sauce away
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be honest: FanGraphs can’t tell the whole story. When you evaluate a pitcher like Blake Snell for acquisition, you need to see the full package. Before handing him the keys to the rotation, we need to look at Savant, we need to look at Brooks, we need to look at the full Blake Snell picture. I submit to you all that the most important question surrounding Blake Snell concerns his taste in pizza. You can talk about pitch design all you want. I’m much more interested in his pie design. For those without a subscription to the Athletic, Snell’s favorite pizza from local favorite Spiro’s is The #19: “The Blake Snell.” In the interest of the sort of serious journalism that made Lookout Landing a Mariners internet destination, I intend to evaluate whether The Blake Snell is a worthy pizza of a Mariners ace.

The Blake Snell has four toppings: Canadian bacon, Italian salami, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese. After reviewing the ingredients (and specifically its absolute lack of vegetables, a fitting choice for a pizza designed for a man in his 20s), my wife informs me that I am “on my own here.” Instead she opts for a calzone, because apparently I married Ben Wyatt. In a testament to Spiro’s gritty Seattle roots, pandemic or no pandemic they don’t offer delivery or usage of any app-based service. It’s pickup only, baby. I phone my order in and away I go. Oh, and because this is a sabermetric site, we will of course be using statistics to evaluate this pizza. Specifically, the Charles Boyle Pizza Blast Email Categories: Texture, Crust, Cheese, Mouthfeel, and Sauce. I don’t know what Mouthfeel is, but like HR/FB%, I won’t let that stop me from using it to try to win arguments.

casually wondering if I will regret this

I grab my pizza (and the calzone) from Spiro’s takeout-style, pandemic being what it is and all. Two things strike me right away: first, far from a divey, hole-in-the-wall type joint, Spiro’s is a legitimately pretty nice-looking restaurant! For some reason—perhaps because it is the favorite pizza of a twenty-seven-year-old man who streams regularly on Twitch and calls his teammates “slapdick prospects”—I expected a lot more of a grungy vibe. Second, when I open the box, I am not greeted by a greasy smattering of cheese, tomatoes, and toppings. Spiro’s pizza is magnificently smooth in appearance, to the point where I struggle to distinguish where the toppings are until I lift a slice.

in all its glory
look how well I placed that website

No one is ever going to confuse this with Il Corvo, but there’s no shame in that—they won’t be confusing it with Papa John’s, either. As someone on the wrong side of 30, I was admittedly a bit concerned about tackling this much meat, cheese, and white bread. No vegetables in sight, just vibes. With that said, this pizza exceeds all of my expectations. It is absolutely delicious, and even my wife—who it must be said, made an excellent choice with her Italian sausage, garlic, and mushroom calzone—admits that this is, in fact, a pretty solid pizza. Thank goodness, because there is a whole lot of it. As you can see, also, there’s really only one beer possibility to pair it with.

what’s Italian for quesadilla?

Let’s move on to the Charles Boyle Pizza Blast Categories to judge Blake on his choice of both pizzeria and ingredients.

  • Texture: We’ll lead with perhaps the weakest element. I think it’s an ingredient problem primarily. With three lunch meats as toppings—and as you can see, a very hefty layer of mozzarella—the pizza is about as close to chewy as a pizza can acceptably be. It stops short of being problematically tough, but it feels sturdy enough to brace a cracked cabinet door if need be. A little sandwich-y, but not in too bad of a way. Pitcher comp: John Lackey (it’s effective, but tough enough I’m a little worried it will swear at me). Score: 6 out of 10
  • Crust: Really solid effort here. The crust is neither thin nor thick, the flavor is neutral without being bland. As mentioned in the texture section, there’s some heft here, but not too much. I don’t know if a pizza crust could ever wow me, but this one certainly gets the job done. Pitcher comp: Mike Leake. Score: 7 out of 10
  • Cheese: Now we’re getting to the real top-of-the-rotation material for this pizza. The cheese sits in a perfectly even layer atop the meats. In at least one place they identify their cheese as Danish mozzarella cheese. I am unfamiliar with this variety before today but hoo boy it is good stuff. It strings out just enough, has a beautiful golden brown crust on top, and is just delightful as a general matter. Pitcher comp: Chris Archer (Rays edition). Score: 8.5 out of 10
  • Mouthfeel: Despite not knowing what mouthfeel is, I say this pizza has it. It’s a perfectly pleasant eating experience. Is it different than texture? Absolutely. How is it different than texture? Think of it like wRC+ and wOBA: they are both nice tools that measure the same output in different ways. If that doesn’t make sense to you, I can’t help you, it was perfectly clear to me. Anyway, this pizza has really good mouthfeel. Love a good mouthfeel. Pitcher comp: Drew Pomeranz (apparently has been good over his time in MLB but I can’t tell you anything about him except that I think he’s white, and his last name sounds like a cheese). Score: 8 out of 10, mostly by default
  • Sauce: Cheese and sauce are where this pizza shine. Like the infamous Sal’s on Brooklyn 99, the sauce is a differentiator. Spiro’s says they make their sauce in house and I believe them. Neither overly sweet nor overly acidic, the sauce is applied with an artist’s touch: just enough to let you know it’s definitively present, not so much that it ever overtakes the rest of the pizza. A strong effort. Pitcher comp: Yu Darvish. Score: 10 out of 10, please acquire, Jerry Dipoto

I had some makeup concerns about Snell based on this pizza before I ate it, but it must be said: he answered all of my questions and then some. When I look for a top of rotation pitcher, I look for certain things: fastball zip, a hammer of a curveball, and most of all the ability to think a little outside the culinary box to get a really solid meal together, even if it’s just from placing a phone call. Blake Snell can handle all of these things. He, and the #19 pizza at Spiro’s, are a SHOULD ACQUIRE for the Seattle Mariners.

Spiro’s paid nothing for this content and indeed they have no idea I’m writing it. Please consider checking them out for your next takeout order; they make a delightful pizza and like so many restaurants they can use our support right now. Check out their locations and menu at ilovespiros.com.