Glasnow brings 100, unveils his new toy

Rays righty mixes in cutter-slider hybrid with customary hard stuff in spring debut

March 2nd, 2021

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- In his first Spring Training start, showed off his new breaking pitch and familiar fastball velocity.

Glasnow blew away the top of the Twins order during a 10-pitch first inning in the Rays’ 6-5 loss at Charlotte Sports Park on Monday, then couldn’t finish the second inning. Overall, he was charged with two runs on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings, but Tampa Bay’s top returning starter came away pleased with his first competitive outing of the spring.

“I'm a relatively slow starter. I just think it's more of getting a rhythm and getting back to that competition aspect,” Glasnow said. “It was honestly just really good to be out there again, to feel that again and then kind of figure out what you need to build on and then just go out and do it again in five, six days.”

Glasnow showed what he can build on, good and less so, during his 35-pitch outing. The right-hander’s first pitch was clocked at 99 mph, according to the radar gun readout on the scoreboard. His next pitch was a slider, which Luis Arraez lined to center field -- only for Brett Phillips to make a slick, sliding catch for the first out.

From there, Glasnow hit 100 mph four times just in the first inning, which ended with Jake Cave whiffing on some high heat. The triple-digit velocity, Glasnow said, was more a product of good mechanics than anything he set out to do.

“I didn't feel like I was trying to throw anything super hard,” he said. “I think timing was there, so the velo was there.”

Brent Rooker homered to begin the second inning, sending a 98-mph fastball out to right-center field. Glasnow quickly struck out the Twins’ next two hitters then ran into trouble with his command, walking three of the final four hitters he faced, with a single mixed in. That sequence wouldn’t be considered a huge deal to begin with because Opening Day is still a month away. It was even less of an issue because Glasnow was mostly locating his pitches around the strike zone.

“It wasn't like errant, spraying balls all over the place,” manager Kevin Cash said. “But we'll fine-tune that. Glas, he knows that it just doesn't work that way.”

“I felt overall good, healthy. I think especially for the first one of spring, as long as I can kind of go out and have some healthy, good quality reps, I'm good to go,” Glasnow added. “Obviously, second inning didn't go as planned. But I feel very good and I'm happy where I am right now.”

Glasnow mostly threw fastballs against Minnesota, mixing in three curveballs, one 92-mph changeup (taken for a called strike by Trevor Larnach in the second inning) and a few more of his newest toy -- the cutter-slider breaking ball that clocked in around 86-87 mph. That’s much closer to his curveball (82-83 mph) than his fastball in terms of velocity, but it’s a different look for hitters to consider.

“I know he's pretty excited about it, and he should be because he feels like he can land that pitch [for strikes] fairly consistently,” Cash said before the game. “With Glas, it's a lot of fastballs at the top of the zone [and] featuring that snap curveball right off that fastball. … A slider has a little bit more shape, a little bit more tilt to it, and something that he can harness in the zone a little bit better.”

The challenge for Glasnow is typically when he’s not throwing his curveball for strikes. When he does, he can simply dominate opponents with two pitches. That’s why Glasnow said he doesn’t need his new pitch to be “devastating.” It just needs to be a legitimate offering that will keep hitters honest. Glasnow said he was happy with the pitch’s shape and velocity on Monday, and he was satisfied that he mostly threw it for strikes in his first outing.

After his start, Glasnow shrugged off a question about whether he feels as if there are greater expectations on him without Charlie Morton (now with Atlanta) and Blake Snell (traded to the Padres) in the starting rotation. Who else is in the rotation or the results of a Grapefruit League game aren’t his focus right now. Glasnow’s goals, at this point, are quite simple: Get ready for the season and pitch to his potential.

“I feel really healthy. Arm feels really good,” Glasnow said. “As long as I keep feeling like this, I'll be good to go. … I’ve just got to go take care of what I’ve got to take care of and then pitch well. That's kind of how it is for me.”