By Jason Shetler
The Pirates found themselves a diamond in the rough when they drafted Tyler Glasnow as a fifth round pick back in 2011. The hard-throwing righty dominated every level of the minors, with a swing and miss fastball and a plus curveball, while being named the Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year on two different occasions.
Glasnow’s rookie year with the Pirates in 2016 didn’t go the way he wanted it to. Entering Spring Training 2017, he was in competition for the fifth starter spot and came out victorious. However, his struggles continued, and he wound up getting demoted back to AAA Indianapolis.
Despite the Pirates rotation being set going into Spring Training this year, Manager Clint Hurdle hinted that Glasnow would have an inside track for a bullpen spot, since he had nothing else to prove in the minors.
Glasnow pitched very well during the Spring, and was rewarded by making the Opening Day roster as a reliever. The early going of 2018 has been good so far for Glasnow, with a 3.12 FIP, a 3.28 xFIP and a K/9 of 12.9. His average fastball velocity of 95.7 mph is currently 7th best among National League relievers, while he’s been getting swings and misses with the curveball. Kyle Crick, who the Pirates called up last week, has worked alongside Glasnow and asked him if threw a slider, to which Glasnow responded no. In his last outing on Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals, he sprinkled in some sliders at an average velocity of 87.9 mph, which is pretty good separation from his fastball. Glasnow’s curve is an effective pitch against left-handed batters, so if he can feel more comfortable throwing the slider moving forward, then he’ll have an equalizer for righty batters, especially if he gets the opportunity to become a starter again.