ST. PETERSBURG -- Despite the slow start to the season, Tyler Glasnow has repeatedly said that he feels like he’s getting closer to the form that saw him become a breakout star before his right forearm injury last season.
Glasnow picked a good time to deliver his best start of this season, allowing just two runs over seven innings and striking out a career-high 13 in the Rays’ 4-2 win over the Orioles on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
“He was outstanding,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “Just electric stuff. He’s a really special pitcher when he’s got the fastball and the curveball going where he wants to. I don’t know if you see many other pitchers in the game that can create that type of chase on the breaking balls.”
The start of Glasnow’s season wasn’t ideal. He missed two weeks during Summer Camp due to a positive COVID-19 test, and he was only able to face live hitters twice during camp. During that period, Glasnow said he felt that he might have developed some bad mechanical habits on the mound, but also that his work with pitching coach Kyle Snyder was helping him get back on track.
That was on full display in the series opener.
Glasnow allowed a first-inning homer to Renato Núñez and was tagged for another run in the fourth on three consecutive singles by the Orioles. But other than that, it was a dominant outing.
Glasnow struck out nine of the final 10 batters he faced, including striking out the side in the fifth and seventh. The right-hander’s seven-inning outing was his longest of the season, and it tied the longest of his career.
“I just think it’s like a cumulation of everything -- physically, mentally -- everything is starting to feel a little bit more normal,” Glasnow said. “The last three innings is definitely the best I’ve felt.”
A big part of Glasnow’s success on Tuesday was the fact that he had all three of his pitches working. Glasnow threw his four-seam fastball 47 times at an average velocity of 96.8 mph and recorded 10 swinging strikes with the pitch. His curveball was even better.
Glasnow threw the curveball 48 times, recording a career-high 13 swings-and-misses on the pitch. His previous high was 12 on April 10, 2019, against the White Sox.
“We know he throws 99, 100 [mph],” Núñez said. “But when he starts throwing those curveballs for strikes, that’s when he gets tough to hit. You can kind of be on the fastball, but when he throws the curveball for a strike, you think, ‘We’re not going to hit it.’ What can I say? He threw a good game.”
Overall, the 24 swings-and-misses were a career high for Glasnow. Since the pitch-tracking era began in 2008, the only Rays pitcher with more swings and misses in a game is his teammate, Blake Snell.
“I can tell you from experience that it ain’t fun facing him,” said Rays outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who hit a two-run home run in the win. “I’ve faced him twice and I think I struck out both times. It’s not easy, it’s not fun to be able to face 99 [mph] with cut, but having in the back of your mind that he throws an 88 mph banger that starts in the same spot as the fastball and ends up in the dirt. The guys that do face it: Good luck.”
Glasnow’s performance couldn’t have come at a better time for the Rays, who have nine pitchers on the injured list and will likely also lose Jalen Beeks, who exited the game with a left arm injury. Being the third American League team with 20 wins is an accomplishment for Tampa Bay, but if the club wants to make noise in October, it’s going to need Glasnow to pitch better. The Rays got just that.
“He was outstanding,” Cash said. “Our bullpen is taxed and they’re going to be taxed tomorrow as well, but they’re a day cleaner, a day fresher now and hopefully we can just continue to build off some of these starters getting deeper in ballgames for us.”
Yandy Díaz and the Rays continue a three-game set against the Orioles on Wednesday at 6:40 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. In his past 14 games, Díaz is hitting .373 with two home runs and eight RBIs. Trevor Richards (0-0, 5.94 ERA) will get the start for Tampa Bay, while Baltimore will start right-hander Asher Wojciechowski (1-3, 4.84 ERA). The game will be televised on Fox Sports Sun and MLB.TV.