We finally know Blake Snell's new team for 2024 ... on the eve of his old team's first game.

Something doesn't add up there. After all, Snell is a reigning Cy Young winner, claiming the award for a second time. By definition, he's no one-hit wonder, and even he was, we wouldn't know it right after he wins the award.

So what's he doing waiting until after St. Patrick's Day to sign, ultimately settling for a two-year, $62 million deal with an opt-out after the first? Better yet, what's every team other than the Giants doing? Starting pitching is the most precious commodity -- you can never have too much of it, you may have heard -- so why would so many teams pass up one of the top two or three in baseball last year at such a reasonable cost?

Whatever the answer -- and it's probably not a simple one -- it doesn't speak well of Blake Snell, the pitcher.

First, you should know that his Cy Young season wasn't like many that came before it, and you should also know that he's taken a particularly circuitous route to his two Cy Youngs. I've made my bust case for Snell already, so we may not be treading new ground here, but the concerns for him begin with his 5.0 walks per nine innings. That was the most among qualifying pitchers, and by nearly half a walk.

Already, that doesn't sound like a Cy Young winner, right? Well, it gets worse. His 3.44 FIP and 3.74 xERA were awfully high for someone with a 2.25 ERA. How high? So high that Snell was the biggest overachiever in both among full-time starters -- and there was no close second.

SF San Francisco • #7 • Age: 31
2023 Stats

I'm not done yet. Remember how I said Snell took a circuitous route to his two Cy Youngs? In the four years between those Cy Young seasons, he put together a 3.85 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. You might say those numbers aren't so bad, particularly when factoring in his 12.0 K/9, but few would say they're ace-caliber. Of even greater concern are the extreme ups and downs along the way. There was a point in both 2021 and 2022 when I was advising Fantasy Baseballers to drop Snell, and it only gets to that point if the struggles persist for a long time. Sure enough, he went into August 2021 with a 5.44 ERA, having thrown six-plus innings in just three of his first 19 starts. He went into the All-Star break a year later with a 5.22 ERA, also having thrown six -plus innings just three times. Those who made the investment in him were getting crushed by him.

(And here we are wondering why MLB teams were hesitant to invest in him.)

It's worth noting that Snell did turn things around in both cases. In his final eight starts in 2021, he had a 1.83 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 13.2 K/9, going six-plus innings in four of them. In his final 14 starts in 2022, he had a 2.19 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 12.1 K/9, going six-plus innings in eight of them. And there was also the stretch that ultimately won him the Cy Young last year. In his final 22 starts, Snell had a 1.18 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 12.5 K/9, going six-plus innings in 17 of them.

When Snell is good, he's untouchable, and even when he's bad, he's still good at the one pitching contribution we value most: strikeouts. I've made the case elsewhere for building your pitching staff around strikeouts in this Age of the Glob, and Snell would seem to be well suited for such a build ... except that in those four years in between Cy Youngs, he never once made it even 130 innings. Yes, injuries have also been a recurring issue for him, and during his bad stretches, he doesn't accumulate many innings because he's pitching so inefficiently. A high K/9 rate is only as good as the innings behind it.

You think 2023 will be an exception, as last year was? It seems unlikely given that he's only signing now. Surely, he's been conducting his own side sessions -- and actually did toss a four-inning sim game in front of scouts Friday -- but it's doubtful the Giants throw him into the fire without some sort of abbreviated buildup. Maybe we see him debut after just a turn or two through the rotation -- maybe -- but the fact is you may have to stash him a while before there's any sort of payoff.

And what sort of payoff will be? What we have here is the ultimate Charizard, my Pokemon-inspired term for an overpowering force that's just as likely to turn its fiery breath on you. Sure, Snell is entering a forgiving environment for pitchers, but so much better than the one he's leaving. Home runs haven't been his issue. Consistency has, perhaps to a greater extent than any other player. If his 2024 plays out like his 2021 and 2022 (or even his 2023, to a lesser degree), the pain could go on for so long that you forget there's another side to the coin. And even if you remember, there's no telling when it'll flip, which is the most terrifying part of all. What if the Charizard spends all season charring you?

The hurried buildup is unlikely to help Snell put his best foot forward. I suppose it's possible he genuinely unlocked something last year, finding better consistency with his curveball and changeup in particular, and will avoid the extreme highs and lows that have come to define his career, but something about the 5.0 BB/9 rate doesn't scream consistency to me. With the likely waiting period and all the complications that go with it, Snell is an uncomfortable choice even among the top 25 starting pitchers. If you take him, you'll need to have extreme patience and an extremely char-proof pitching staff.