Glasnow pleased with successful start for Rays

May 2nd, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- As got the news that he was being traded to the Rays, the right-hander immediately knew going to a new team is the fresh start he needed in order to jump-start his career.

After being ranked as Pirates’ No. 1 prospect in 2016 by MLB Pipeline, Glasnow finished with a 4.24 ERA in seven appearances with Pittsburgh during his rookie season. In 2017, Glasnow struggled even more, posting a 7.69 ERA in 15 outings.

In the midst of the struggles, Glasnow began to lose some of the confidence that carried him through the Minor League system and helped him become one of the top prospects in baseball.

“I think when I got to the big leagues, I was afraid to be myself because I didn’t want anyone to think I was like showing them up and stuff,” Glasnow said. “I just got kind of internalized and more introverted, and just my confidence kind of took a hit.”

Glasnow said getting traded to the Rays served as the wake-up call he was looking for.

“It was like the weirdest thing. Like two days before I got traded, I had like an epiphany. It was so weird,” Glasnow said. “I remember getting traded and being like, 'OK, this is perfect. I can go and like reinvent myself. Nobody knows who I am and I can just be myself again.'”

Now that Glasnow has been a member of the Rays for a couple of months, the franchise and the rest of the Major Leagues are seeing what he is capable of doing on the mound.

Through six starts this season, the numbers indicate that Glasnow is one of the best pitchers in the Majors. His 1.75 ERA leads the American League. His fastball velocity is in the 96th percentile, according to Baseball Savant. And his curveball spin rate ranks in the 92nd percentile.

But as dominant as his stuff has been, Glasnow continuously credits a change in the way he approaches the game as the main reason for his early success.

“I was very obsessed with the feeling of being perfect and trying to find like the perfect mechanic to when I never feel bad, and I think I just realized that that’s not real,” Glasnow said. “From the first game, it was something that I changed that I had never really done before. Just like no matter what I feel, just be athletic.”

Glasnow says the change began when he got traded and he began to have conversations with Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, who also credited his 2018 season to changing his mentality and pitching with more confidence.

“He just had to find what fuels him, what makes him pitch, why he pitches and how he gets in that state of mind,” Snell said. “Once you get there, your competitiveness and your understanding of everything just gets so much better.”

Part of the change of mentality has resulted in Glasnow showing more emotion on the mound, which is something he lost in his time with the Pirates. Glasnow, who is generally a laid-back person, has learned to come to the ballpark with more of a controlled aggression on his start days.

“For me, it’s really hard to get angry. I’m not a confrontational person at all,” Glasnow said. “But my game day, like the day before, I just have to convince myself I’m [mean]. It’s not like being mean to people. It’s like, 'OK this is my day, this is my time to prepare,' and I try to kind of feed off things that just make me angry.

“I think it’s become more of a 'me against you' mentality. Like you’re trying to take my success and I’m trying to take yours. I want to come out on top, so I think that’s definitely the biggest thing that has helped me.”

The quality of his stuff was never a concern with Glasnow. The fastball and curveball combination, paired with the fact that his average extension on the four-seam fastball is a Major League-best 7.5 feet, makes him tough to hit. But now that Glasnow feels like he’s finally in a good spot mentally, his strong start to the season doesn’t come to a surprise to anyone inside the Rays' clubhouse.

“You always knew as you watched him coming up that he was going to be a dude,” Snell said. “He has everything to be great and then to see him put it together and then continue to get better and better is awesome. I think it makes everyone around him better. It makes me better, for sure.”