Tyler Glasnow was awful in the first two months of the season. Once again dominant at Triple-A, has the time come to for a second chance with the Pittsburgh Pirates?
Pittsburgh Pirates SP Tyler Glasnow has been untouchable with the Indianapolis Indians since being demoted back down to Triple-A .
In nine starts with the Indians in 2017, the 23 year-old is 6-0 with a 1.46 ERA. He has 85 strikeouts and 24 walks in 55.2 innings pitched. His K/9 sits at 13.7. His BB/9 is at 3.9. He’s averaging just over six innings pitched per start.
That’s exciting stuff. However, to be frank, we’ve seen this movie before.
He may very well be the best starting pitcher in AAA history. In 207.1 career AAA innings pitched, Glasnow is 16-4 with a 1.82 ERA. He has 266 strikeouts and 108 walks.
Many Pittsburgh Pirates fans don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Have adjustments been made?
It has been said about a million times. “Tyler Glasnow has nothing left to prove in AAA!” That may be true in terms of results but what about his key issues? Glasnow has walked 4.8 batters per nine innings at the big league level this year. In AAA, that total dropped to 3.9. That’s a slight improvement but not substantial enough to suggest that those struggles would suddenly be minimized at the major league level.
The biggest difference between Glasnow the Pittsburgh Pirates’ major league pitcher and Glasnow the minor league god has been the amount of hits given up. With the Pirates this year, Glasnow gave up 12.4 hits per nine innings. With Indy, that number has shriveled to five. His ground ball rate has hovered around 43 percent at both the big league and AAA level.
Overall, Glasnow is striking out way more batters at AAA and walking slightly less. We all know that no batter can touch him at that level. Whether adjustments have been made or not will be seen upon his eventual call up.
What he needs to do upon return
The biggest issue with Glasnow has always been control. This goes beyond just walks given up. You can be successful in the major leagues if you walk batters. Just look at Francisco Liriano from 2013-15. You can’t be successful if you consistently get behind in the count.
When Glasnow has thrown a first pitch strike this year with the Pirates, his xFIP is 3.06, his K/9 is at 10.24, and his BB/9 is at 1.55. When he throws a first pitch ball, his xFIP is 8.47, his K/9 is at 8.05, and BB/9 is at 11.37. The difference in results is more than monumental. Opponents are hitting .278/.311/.522 against first pitch strike Glasnow. They are hitting .363/.513/.730 against first pitch ball Glasnow.
If Glasnow finds a way to get ahead 0-2, the at bat is basically over. Opponents hit .122/.122/.195 against him when that happens. If Glasnow gets ahead in the count, he is golden. As we’ve seen, that is much easier said than done.
Is now the time?
I honestly don’t know. We can drool at his AAA stats all we want but we know they mean absolutely nothing. It is up to the Pirates to decide whether Glasnow has made the necessary adjustments to better his chances at being successful at the big league level.
I will say this. We may see Glasnow sooner rather than later. With Jameson Taillon struggling mightily over his past two starts, a phantom DL stint may be of order. If that is the case, Glasnow has to be the next man up. Sure, Steven Brault has been great in AAA this year, but not Glasnow great. Glasnow is the guy.
If Taillon doesn’t head to the DL and the rotation stays intact, Glasnow will probably be a September call up. The bullpen is basically set right now and the Pirates seem to be still very much committed to Glasnow the starting pitcher. Once a September call up, Glasnow could then start a few games and get some work out of the bullpen in low leverage situations for repetitions.
What if he comes up and struggles again?
This is where things might get hairy. How many chances do you get? One one hand, if Glasnow comes back and reverts to his former self it would be hard to justify chugging him out there as a starter. On the other hand, he’ll be turning just 24 at the end of the month and still has elite stuff. When is the proper time to pull the plug? There’s no right answer for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Do the Pirates have to coddle Glasnow as to not destroy his confidence? Is confidence the main issue? Is Glasnow going to be Pedro Alvarez the pitcher? High upside and high power but limited results all while lacking mental toughness? These are all valid questions.
If Glasnow comes up this year and falls flat on his face again, the concerns will be magnified. His offseason will be crucial. He will need to find a way to fix his control problems or he will eventually be a bullpen piece. If that’s the case, consider it a bust for the Pirates as Glasnow is a key part in the team’s future plans.
As a starter.
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