Glasnow looking to mix it up with new pitch

February 18th, 2021

Tyler Glasnow got to this point of his career with two dominant pitches. He developed into a top prospect for the Pirates and a key starter for the Rays by overpowering opponents with high-octane fastballs and diving curveballs. Now, he’s ready to expand his arsenal.

Speaking after the first workout for Tampa Bay’s pitchers and catchers on Thursday morning in Port Charlotte, Fla., Glasnow said he’s continuing to focus on his seldom-used changeup, and more interestingly, adding a cutter/slider. The 27-year-old right-hander said he’s been discussing the new offspeed offering with pitching coach Kyle Snyder, “going into the lab” and using the available technology to help improve it.

Glasnow has toyed with a slider before, both in the Minors and when he was in Pittsburgh’s bullpen a few years ago. Those efforts likely weren’t as thoroughly backed by the kind of pitch-design tools now at his disposal, but his goal remains the same: To be more unpredictable.

“It’s easier to formulate a third pitch and understand how I need to position my hand to throw it and everything," Glasnow said during a Zoom call with reporters. "I think it’s easier to progress with a pitch when you have all those things to work with. It’s been good. I’ve thrown it the last couple bullpens, and it’s been feeling really good.”

Nearly all of Glasnow’s pitches last season were four-seam fastballs (60.6 percent) or curveballs (34.8 percent), with his changeup accounting for the rest. His curve was practically unhittable, with batters hitting .120 and slugging just .277 against the pitch last season. His fastball was more gettable, as opponents hit .246 with a .460 slugging percentage -- up from .195 and .328, respectively, in 2019.

Ideally, Glasnow will be able to utilize his new breaking ball somewhere between those pitches, in terms of both velocity and location, allowing him to take another step forward atop the Rays’ rotation this season.

“I think it'll help a lot. I just need something that doesn't have so much depth I can throw for a strike. I think it'll be a good pitch to get outs on, obviously, too,” Glasnow said. “If you're looking at a plot, I have my heaters up here, my curveballs down here. I just need something that's going to be right here [in the middle that] I can just throw whenever I'm behind in the count, or anything like that, for a strike. Just to not be so predictable. I think it also puts it into the hitter’s mind that there's something else, like another offering. So I think it can only do me some good.”

Glasnow’s teammates are equally eager to see what the uber-athletic pitcher has in store.

“I mean, it's Glas. He probably has the best arm talent of anybody in the big leagues,” reliever Pete Fairbanks said. “So when you take somebody that is that talented with what they can make a baseball do, I can imagine that the slider will be plus, you know? I haven't seen it. I can't wait to see it.”

Around the horn
• General manager Erik Neander said Wednesday night that the Rays are not anticipating any discipline for Randy Arozarena. The outfielder was detained and released without charges in November following an incident with his ex-wife during which he reportedly tried to take his daughter from her mother, who decided not to take legal action against Arozarena. He is scheduled to report on time with the rest of the Rays’ position players next week.

“Our understanding of things right now is that there’s no anticipated punishment [or] ramifications based on the investigation that’s taken place. That is our understanding of things,” Neander said. “It’s something that we took seriously [and] continue to take seriously in case any new information comes about. But based on our information, based on how we've been informed on this, we anticipate him to be a full participant for us moving forward.”

• Rays manager Kevin Cash said reliever Diego Castillo and catcher Francisco Mejía are not yet in camp. Their arrival to the United States was delayed, so they are only now going through the mandatory five-day quarantine period, Cash said.

Castillo and Mejía are scheduled to take their physicals at the same time as the rest of Tampa Bay’s position players early next week, which means they should be able to participate in the club’s first full-squad workout on Tuesday.

• Maybe Glasnow won’t be the only one with a new pitch this season. Fairbanks thrived in Tampa Bay’s bullpen last season relying mostly on his fastball and slider and joked that, “If Cash has his way, I’ll be a two-pitch guy again” this year. But the right-hander has been working on a changeup.

“It's not like it went anywhere. I'm just going to try to throw it more,” Fairbanks said. “So, Cashy: I'm doing it, if you don't mind.”