Tyler Glasnow's success in the minors didn't translate to Pittsburgh during his initial run in the big leagues. He gave up 11 earned runs in 23.1 innings split between four starts and three relief outings. His biggest weapon -- fastball velocity -- varied greatly. After coming to the Bucs with a mid-to-upper 90s heater, Glasnow averaged 93.5 mph and occasionally dipped into the high 80s. He spent time on the DL with both shoulder and triceps discomfort, factors which likely contributed to inconsistent velocity. His walk rate (5.0 BB/9) remained high and the Pirates tried to teach him a slide step on the fly to help contain the running game. A reluctance to throw a recently-adopted changeup basically made him to a two-pitch pitcher. If he can stay healthy and remain confident through the inevitable struggles young pitchers face, then the 6-foot-8 righty could move into the top half of Pittsburgh's rotation in 2017.
Glasnow is one of two remaining candidates for the Pirates' fifth starter role, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Drew Hutchison was optioned down Wednesday, leaving Glasnow and Trevor Williams as the top options to round out the starting staff in Pittsburgh. The hurler who loses out on the rotation spot will likely make the team's bullpen. Much has been made of Glasnow's strikeout upside -- he posted a 9.3 K/9 in the majors last season and owns an 11.6 career K/9 in the minors -- but it's the steady control he's shown this spring which could secure Glasnow a regular spot in the rotation. Glasnow has issued six walks in 14.1 Grapefruit League innings.
Glasnow struck out nine batters in four innings Saturday, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk. "Towards the fourth inning was the best I've felt," Glasnow told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "My curveball started to take shape and the changeup and fastball were coming along. Good signs." He showed a glimpse of the velocity that helped to make him a top prospect in the minors, touching 97 mph in the first inning. While Glasnow lacked efficiency (he needed 82 pitches to complete four innings), he carried himself with confidence against a watered-down Detroit lineup. The Bucs haven't decided upon a fifth starter, but general manager Neal Huntington could offer insight during his radio show Sunday.
Glasnow gave up one run in four innings Saturday, striking out five while allowing four hits and two walks. "A very productive day for him," pitching coach Ray Searage told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "After the leadoff walk, he still was in control. He turned the page and started making pitches." While Glasnow has the highest upside of any contenders for the team's fifth and final rotation spot, he's either looked really good or really bad this spring. Pittsburgh also might only go with four starters in April. "We've talked about how we maximize the rotation out of the gate," general manager Neal Huntington said. "How aggressive do we want to be with these guys every fifth day so early in the season, given the odd schedule we have? Part of it will be based on who we decide is going to be the last starter, how much of a stranglehold he has on that spot and also matchups from there on out."
Glasnow gave up five runs on six hits and a walk in 2.2 innings Monday. He balked once and struck out one batter, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. He retired the first six batters he faced before running into trouble with fastball command inside the strike zone. After the game, he mentioned the team's instruction for him to throw primarily fastballs as a reason why he struggled. "Especially the second time through the lineup when you know a fastball is coming, it's going to be easier to get hit," said Glasnow. "But I stuck to a gameplan and established (the fastballs) in the zone for strikes, at least. It was a little over the middle, but ..." Manager Clint Hurdle said Glasnow's execution was more of the issue than the gameplan. It's never good when a manager and his player are seemingly at odds. After a promising beginning to camp, Glasnow has fallen behind in the race for a rotation spot.
Glasnow allowed six earned runs on five hits and four walks in 2.1 innings against the Dominican Republic's WBC squad Wednesday. He struck out one batter. After striking out six of seven Orioles in his first spring outing, Glasnow has struggled his last two times out. Few pitching prospects carry his upside, but it's looking like the 6-foot-8 righty might well begin 2017 in Triple-A. He's working on a shortened stride and a new-grip changeup, both of which might help him with consistency.