Control eludes 'out of rhythm' Glasnow in G5

October 27th, 2020

felt like he was out of rhythm at times, finding himself behind in the count more than he’d like and falling into predictable pitch patterns that made his electric stuff easier to hit. He could certainly chalk up some of his rough postseason outings to those factors. Rays manager Kevin Cash was quick to point out another one, in case anyone forgot.

“What hurt him is the talent of the Dodgers’ lineup, more than anything,” Cash said. “They're just really, really talented and can make pitchers work and drive the pitch count up, and they drive the pitch count up and then it seems like they find a way to get the big hit.”

All of that played out as Glasnow, in perhaps his final outing of the year, took the loss in Game 5 of the World Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington on Sunday night. The right-hander struck out seven and cut his walk total in half in his second start of the Series, but he still struggled to keep the Dodgers’ dangerous lineup in check during Tampa Bay's 4-2 loss.

If starter Blake Snell and the Rays are able to stave off elimination by winning Game 6 on Tuesday night, Glasnow would presumably be deemed available to pitch out of the bullpen -- an all-hands-on-deck situation -- in a decisive Game 7. But that call might not be as easy for Cash, given some of Glasnow’s struggles against the Dodgers in his past two starts.

Glasnow gave up four runs on six hits and three walks, then exited Game 5 after throwing 102 pitches in five innings. He allowed at least four runs in four of his six starts during the playoffs, becoming the first pitcher to allow four-plus runs in four outings in a single postseason.

Glasnow kept his team within striking distance in Game 5, at least, but it wasn’t quite the step forward he hoped for after surrendering six runs on three hits and six walks in his Game 1 matchup with Clayton Kershaw.

“Obviously didn’t go as planned, but I think after that second inning or so, I think my timing was a little bit better,” Glasnow said. “It wasn’t soon enough, obviously. Just a little out of rhythm the first two innings.”

Considering the early trouble he encountered and the loud contact he allowed, Glasnow may have been fortunate to walk off the mound with Tampa Bay down by only two runs.

Two batters into the game, Glasnow had fallen behind: Mookie Betts ripped a 106 mph double to left field and scored on a 102 mph single hit by Corey Seager. The red-hot Seager wound up on third base after a pair of wild pitches by Glasnow and scored on Cody Bellinger’s 101.3 mph single.

Glasnow needed 34 pitches to get out of the first inning, his most in an opening frame since he threw 39 in the first on Sept. 5, 2018. Scoring first is critical for Tampa Bay, in part because of how it allows Cash to use his bullpen, and that’s been difficult for the Rays to do all series as they allowed the first run in Games 1, 3, 4 and 5.

“It is a problem. There's no denying it's a problem, and we need to correct that -- and we don't have that much time to correct, so it needs to be fixed for Game 6, for sure,” Cash said. “Home, away, it doesn't matter. Prevent runs. I don't care how we do it. We've got to do a better job at it.”

The Dodgers kept hitting the ball hard off Glasnow in the second, when Joc Pederson led off the inning with a 106 mph, 428-foot homer out to right field. He finished the night with a 99.5 mph average exit velocity against him, the highest in any outing of his career. That was also the highest average exit velocity against any pitcher in a postseason outing tracked by Statcast (minimum 10 batted balls) since 2015.

Glasnow escaped a scoreless third inning despite another wild pitch. He is the seventh pitcher in postseason history to uncork at least three wild pitches in a game and the first to do so in a World Series game. But Glasnow settled down with a perfect fourth inning, and he retired the first two Dodgers he faced in the fifth before Max Muncy unloaded on a 3-2 fastball over the middle of the plate.

“Man, that one felt pretty good,” said Muncy, who paused to admire the ball as it soared into the stands. “There's not too many times you're going to connect 100 mph right in the middle of a barrel. It just felt really solid. Thankfully, I got it in the air, though, and didn’t have to worry about running too hard.”

Muncy’s solo shot was the ninth home run Glasnow gave up in the playoffs, the highest total allowed by a pitcher in a single postseason.

“I just think a lot of heaters [have been] kinda living out in the middle of the plate, and I think when a hitter can eliminate other pitches and just understand I’m probably going to throw a heater, it’s easy to time up,” Glasnow said. “A lot of it’s just [hitters] getting ahead and predictable pitches.”

In many ways, this postseason only amplified the trends that emerged during Glasnow’s 11 regular-season starts.

Glasnow continued to throw hard -- his 29 pitches of at least 100 mph were the second most as a starter in a single postseason, behind only Yordano Ventura (32) in 2014. He continued to miss bats, striking out 40 in 28 2/3 innings. But he also continued to give up hard contact whenever opponents were able to get on time with his high-octane fastball and big-breaking curveball, which may help explain his recently stated intent to develop a third pitch this offseason.

“It’s definitely not like my greatest month of baseball, that’s for sure. I don’t know. It’s just been falling behind on guys and not having that rhythm in the zone,” Glasnow said. “Just really kind of too many home runs, honestly, this whole year, especially in the postseason. I think at the end of the day, it’s something that I’ll have to grow [from] as a pitcher. I think it’ll make me stronger. I think it’s definitely not a great position to be in, but it definitely makes me hungry to come back and just improve.”