Glasnow feels playoff-ready after dominant start

Righty K's 7 in 3 2/3 scoreless innings and is in line to start Game 2 of the Wild Card Series

October 4th, 2022

BOSTON -- After two starts back from Tommy John surgery, the Rays have seen what they need to see from . He looks healthy. His stuff looks elite. He has built up his pitch count.

Glasnow is ready to pitch in the postseason. And he’ll get that chance Saturday, starting the second game of the Rays’ American League Wild Card Series.

“I think that was the ultimate goal working back, to try to be in the playoffs,” Glasnow said. “And now that it's here, I'm excited.”

Glasnow struck out seven hitters and walked just one while allowing a pair of singles over 3 2/3 innings in the Rays’ 4-3 defeat against the Red Sox on Monday night at Fenway Park.

The big right-hander has allowed four hits and two walks while striking out 10 over 6 2/3 innings in two starts. On a cool night at Fenway, Glasnow’s fastball wasn’t coming in quite as hot as in his first start last week in Cleveland. But he maxed out at 98.9 mph on his 63rd pitch of the night and forced the Red Sox to whiff on 11 of the 31 swings they took.

Asked afterward if Glasnow had a chance to be part of Tampa Bay’s playoff rotation, manager Kevin Cash answered: “I feel he'll be pitching Game 2 for us, wherever we're going.”

The Rays’ 16th loss in their past 24 games didn’t change the state of the Wild Card race, but it did push them a bit closer to a likely best-of-three matchup with the Guardians beginning Friday. Whether they’re playing in Cleveland or Toronto, the Rays are poised to throw out the 1-2 punch of lefty ace Shane McClanahan and Glasnow.

Standings update: 86-74 (third AL Wild Card spot)
Games remaining: 2
AL Wild Card: The Blue Jays lead the Rays by five games for the first spot; the Mariners lead the Rays by 1 1/2 games for the second spot
Seeding battle: Tampa Bay cannot catch Toronto (91-69) but owns the tiebreaker over Seattle (5-2 in the season series)

Glasnow is not fully built up and stretched out like McClanahan and fellow starters Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs and Corey Kluber. But he still could clearly make a significant impact in a short postseason series given the way he has pitched over the past week.

He was even encouraged by a slightly rocky 27-pitch first inning Monday night, because he found a way to pitch through it unscathed, then needed only 37 pitches to breeze through the rest of his outing.

“Part of the reason I wanted to come back sooner was to get one of those innings in,” Glasnow said. “It was good. I got out of the inning. That gave me a little boost, and then [I] went in and kind of collected myself and then went out and found my timing and felt good.”

“Sometimes it's better, when you're coming back, to have those challenges,” Cash said. “They made him work -- work really hard -- and he came out really good from it.”

The Rays provided Glasnow some early run support with a pair of long-awaited home runs.

took Rich Hill deep to left field in the first inning, his first homer since July 2. The switch-hitting shortstop played 30 games and had surgery to repair a fractured right hamate bone in between homers, but he got every bit of his Statcast-projected 399-foot, 107.2 mph shot on Monday.

“It felt really good,” Franco -- who also tripled (and thought he could have made it home for an inside-the-park homer) with one out in the ninth inning -- said through interpreter Manny Navarro. “I know it'd been a really long time because of the injuries, but luckily I felt good.”

made it a 3-0 game in the fourth with a two-run shot over the Green Monster, his first home run since May 8. The outfielder went 63 games and 241 at-bats between homers, the longest drought of his career. Cash said Margot “heard it from the guys in the dugout” about his drought, which Margot acknowledged with a smile.

“They said I probably wouldn't hit one for the rest of the year,” Margot said through Navarro.

Prioritizing rest for their relievers, the Rays asked just-promoted Kevin Herget to pitch the rest of the game. The right-hander did his job on that front but gave up the lead, allowing four runs on seven hits over the final 4 1/3 innings.

“Once we realized we weren't going to have an opportunity for home-field [advantage], I think the best thing that we can do is make sure that we are 100 percent going into the postseason,” Cash said. “We know we're going to lean on these guys [in the bullpen]. … I thought Herget threw the ball really, really well.”