On Friday I saw Tyler Glasnow make the best start that I’ve ever seen him make. Since then we’ve written a lot about him, including recapping that particular outing. This has led to a few questions about his development, along with questions about where he could end up this year. I thought I would cover a few of those questions tonight.
Will Glasnow See an Early Promotion to Indianapolis?
Probably not. The Pirates usually have starting pitchers go around 150 innings at the Double-A level. The one exception here was Gerrit Cole, who was promoted to Indianapolis for timing reasons, and to get him in the majors by June of the following year. He probably wasn’t ready to be promoted to Indianapolis when he did go up, and struggled a bit at the start of the following season.
As for Glasnow, there is no reason to promote him to Indianapolis early. He would need at least half a season there. If you promote him by mid-season, then he’s ready at the end of the year. But he’s not going to be an option at the end of the year (which I’ll get to next). We’re a year and a half away from him arriving in the majors. It makes the most sense to have him in Altoona for at least a year, so that he can focus more on the changeup at a lower level, along with other things I’ll touch on later.
If he does get to Indianapolis this year, it would be at the end of the year for their playoff run, assuming they’re in the playoffs and assuming Altoona isn’t in the post-season.
Why isn’t he a candidate for a September call-up?
The Pirates just don’t do this, and they really shouldn’t. There is such a small benefit here to rush Glasnow just to get him ready for a few innings in September and the post-season. It sounds great in theory, because you imagine a guy with a good fastball and a good breaking pitch just mowing down hitters in short appearances, shortening the game. The reality is that Glasnow needs some work, and rushing him for this purpose could hurt in the long run. In the short-term, they’re not going to get any additional benefit from him than they would from someone like Arquimedes Caminero or John Holdzkom.
What will his pitch count be this year?
I had a question about Glasnow going 80 pitches in his last outing. I expect him to get closer to 100 pitches as the year goes on. The minor league starters get to five innings by the end of Spring Training, which means they’re going six innings in their early starts. The Pirates are usually conservative in these early outings, and wait to give pitchers seven innings and a chance at 100 pitches.
What does Glasnow need to work on?
The changeup is the big thing. He didn’t throw many in his last outing, and the ones he threw were inconsistent. He was 85-88 MPH, but needs to stay in the bottom end of that zone, while showing some movement on the pitch. He had that on a few pitches on Friday, and a few others were just straight, and looked like “batting practice fastballs” according to one scout. So there needs to be consistency with his velocity and the movement.
But why did he only throw 6-7 changeups last time out if he needs to work on the pitch?
Last year in Bradenton, Glasnow focused heavily on the changeup, throwing 15-20 pitches each outing. It didn’t matter who he was going up against — the focus was throwing the pitch and getting comfortable with it. This year the focus is completely different. The focus for all of the pitchers in Altoona is more about pitching, and less about individual pitches.
On Friday, Glasnow was going up against a team that would have benefitted by him throwing a lot of changeups. The game plan was to mix in early count breaking pitches for strikes to get the hitters off-balance, and to beat them with fastballs, which Glasnow did a great job of. He’ll be working on the changeup this year, but he’ll get that work when it makes sense for him to throw the changeup.
**Tyler Glasnow And Austin Meadows Leading The Way At The Start Of The Year. Speaking of Glasnow, he was one of the top pitchers this week, with Austin Meadows leading the hitters.