Tyler Glasnow has been a mystery during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. On one hand, the 24-year-old righty has all the makings of a star. His stuff is mesmerizing and can make the best hitters in baseball look foolish. On the other hand, he sometimes looks lost on the mound having the look of a worried puppy.
At 6’8″, Glasnow’s mid-90s fastball looks close to 100 mph because his release point is closer to the batter than just about every pitcher in baseball. His curveball is buckling. Glasnow’s changeup is still a work in progress. He hasn’t had the need to throw it in 2018 being that he is currently in the bullpen where a two pitch mix is enough.
Last night, Glasnow had an encouraging outing. He pitched 3.2 innings and gave up two earned runs on three hits. He struck out seven and walked three. Glasnow was able to get nine swinging strikes. His swinging strike rate of 12.3 percent was the highest of any outing he’s had this season. He even recored his first 1-2-3 inning of 2018 and sat down seven in a row at one point.
Still, command was a big problem. Of his 73 pitches thrown, 37 were strikes. That’s barely 50 percent. Glasnow’s outing ended with two walks on eight straight balls. There were moments where he would show great command, lose it, then regain it again. Glasnow had some counts where he fell behind but fought back to record an out. He also had counts where he got ahead only to fall behind again.
It’s in there…somewhere
Glasnow has tremendous talent. There is no denying it. He’s striking out 31.6 percent of the batters he faces. League average is 23 percent. Yet, he’s walking 15.8 percent of the batters he faces when the league average is 9.2 percent.
Opponents are hitting .208 against Glasnow but his opposing BABIP is .310. In that sense, he’s been unlucky this year as league average BABIP is .290. This season, opponents are making hard contact against Glasnow 20 percent of the time. Last year, that rate was 31.5 percent. Over his career, it has been 29.5 percent.
It’s a huge positive to see that Glasnow is not getting crushed like he has. He is still getting the same amount of soft contact that he’s gotten in the past, around 20 percent. The big difference is that hard contact is now becoming medium contact. Home runs of last season are becoming fly outs. Last year, Glasnow gave up 13 home runs in 62 innings. He has surrendered one home run in 12.1 innings this year.
This year seems different
For the past two seasons, Glasnow would get into trouble and completely lose it. He would be unable to throw a strike let alone record an out. This season, Glasnow has gotten into trouble but there is a difference. He’s getting outs. Yes, he is still giving up runs in some of those instances, but he can at least finish the inning. He’s fighting to push through his command issues. He’s not giving in to failure.
Perhaps a trip to the bullpen is just what Glasnow needed early on is his career. Clint Hurdle has used him in extremely low leverage situations. Glasnow is making adjustments. He is showing that he belongs in the big leagues.
It seems that this will be Glasnow’s role on the Pirates for some time. He is the team’s long reliever. For now, that’s okay.
Step one of his rebirth, if you will, in the majors is complete. Prove that you belong. Before this season, not a lot of people thought that he would be able to achieve that. Glasnow has shown that he can pitch in this league.
Step two will be overall consistency. Throw more strikes. Walk less. Incorporate the changeup. If he is able to do that, he will see higher leverage situations.
If he can succeed then, another look at him in the starting rotation will not be out of the question.