PITTSBURGH -- Tyler Glasnow tinkered with a slider in the Minor Leagues, but he reached the Majors on the strength of his high-octane fastball and swing-and-miss curveball. But in the days after his last outing in Philadelphia, he found himself looking for another weapon.
This spring, Glasnow decided to embrace the natural cut on his fastball and tweaked his grip accordingly. During afternoon throwing sessions with reliever Kyle Crick, he rediscovered his slider. He started throwing the pitch from the same angle as his fastball and came away pleased with its spin, movement and accuracy. Pitching coach Ray Searage and assistant pitching coach Justin Meccage gave Glasnow the green light to use it in a game.
Glasnow unveiled his slider in the Pirates' 6-5 win against the Cardinals on Friday night. He figured he'd mix in one but wound up throwing six as he struck out four over three efficient, scoreless innings -- perhaps as dominant as he's looked in the big leagues.
"I've been kind of playing with it in the throwing program and on the mound," Glasnow said. "It's one of those things, a breaking pitch that I can throw for a strike a lot easier than a curveball and kind of have two pitches for a put-away. It put me in a good spot."
The slider was on display against Kolten Wong, the final batter he faced in the eighth inning. Wong swung and missed at consecutive sliders, with the last one taking a late, sharp drop in the strike zone.
"He had good command of it, and he threw it for strikes and got some swing-and-miss with it," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's something off the fastball and it's something off the curve, so it is a different variety. To have three weapons, he's going to need that."
In 8 2/3 innings over his past three outings, Glasnow has allowed three runs on six hits and five walks while striking out 12. After a rocky rookie season last year, he believes he is benefitting from a fresh start in the bullpen.
"Last year, I didn't really feel like I contributed much," Glasnow said. "You kind of come into the clubhouse and you sit around like, 'We're not in a good spot, we're not winning a lot and I'm not really contributing at all to help the team.' Even if I'm going into blowouts and stuff like that, I just think I'm in a better position now to help my team win. It's just a reassuring feeling."
Around the horn
• Trevor Williams is listed to start Thursday's series finale at Nationals Park, keeping him on turn. The Bucs will either skip or delay Steven Brault's next start. With three off-days during the first two weeks of May, Hurdle said the Pirates are "still working through some things" with their rotation.
"You're going to need to prioritize what men you want out there and when you want them out there, then you try to find spots where it's four or five [starters] or it's four and you move a fifth out," Hurdle said. "Those are the conversations that we're having right now."
The Pirates will need a fifth starter on Friday in Milwaukee, whether it's Brault or Kingham, but after that, they could go without a fifth starter until May 19.
• Francisco Cervelli is the seventh Pittsburgh player in club history to produce 20 or more RBI before the end of April, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last Pirates to do it were Xavier Nady (26) and Nate McLouth (25) in 2008.