BRADENTON, Fla. – One of the most impressive things about Tyler Glasnow’s pitching ability, and one of the most difficult things for opposing hitters, is his stride length. I’ve heard opposing hitter comments over the years describing his stride length by saying the ball seems like it is already at the plate when he releases it. I’ve also heard that it seems like the ball is falling from the sky, due to his high overhand arm slot.

The stride length was recently put into numbers by Daren Willman, who yesterday tweeted out the handy chart below.

Glasnow’s stride length gets up to about 7.7 feet, and gives him a perceived 3 MPH extra in velocity. When his game is on, he sits in the 92-96 MPH range, touching as high as 99-100. So the perceived velocity for the opposing hitters would be around 95-99, touching as high as 102-103, if that stayed consistent with all of his pitches.

That is very impressive. At the same time, the long stride length was causing problems for Glasnow.

I talked with him last week about some changes he was working on, and the biggest one came with his stride length. Glasnow realized that the length was too long, and that he was landing on his heel first. This led to him not getting his front foot down, and threw off his delivery, while losing power and velocity. The latter point can be shown in the numbers, with Glasnow sitting around 92-93 at times last year, and not getting up to the mid-90s as frequently as before. The solution was simple.

“I just started bringing it in a little bit more,” Glasnow said. “Not really shortening the stride length a ton, but bringing my foot under and planting. It sounds small, but it was a huge difference.”

Glasnow said that he “felt kind of weird all year”, and decided to make the change in the last start. Part of the change came from talking with Gerrit Cole, who has a long stride, and does the same thing to shorten it a bit so he can land properly. Glasnow put those changes into effect in his final start of the year, where he gave up one run on one hit in five innings, with four walks and four strikeouts.

“It felt good, and so the first day I started throwing in the offseason, I did it, and it started to feel good,” Glasnow said of the change. “Everyday I practiced it, it was feeling good. Right now, throwing-wise, is the best I’ve ever felt. So I’m really excited to come into the season this year.”

This approach isn’t brand new to Glasnow. It’s something he was doing in High-A, although he said that adjustments and bad habits got him out of the routine. The goal with the change is more command, and easier velocity.

“I don’t have to throw as hard as I can to throw 92-96 now,” Glasnow said. “I can know what velo is coming out, rather than just guessing. The problem was I would throw with the same effort in every pitch, and it would vary with velo.”

One thing that seemed off last year with Glasnow was his curveball. He has always had issues with his fastball command, but the curveball struggled last year. This switch is also aimed to help the command of the curveball, adding more consistency.

“I was under everything,” Glasnow said. “My curveball, the bite of it was really bad. This is the biggest difference [with the new stride], just shape and spin. It’s just more consistent.”

The lack of curveball command, plus the continued lack of fastball command made it so that Glasnow had zero reliable pitches at times last year. This was due to his hesitancy in throwing the changeup. Glasnow said that he plans on throwing the changeup more this year, and that wouldn’t be hard to do, since he went a few starts without even throwing it at all. But he has already started that process in his flat ground work.

“I feel good with it now,” Glasnow said. “I’ve been throwing it a ton in throwing programs. Pretty much 50% of the time in the throwing program is throwing the changeup. I’m getting a better feel for it now, and I’m just excited to use it during the season.”

Throwing the pitch a lot in flat ground work is a lot different than throwing it at all in actual games. Time will tell if Glasnow gets comfortable enough to throw that pitch in a game, especially when his fastball or curveball aren’t working. However, he will have another pitch to rely on in 2017, and it’s not exactly a new offering. The Pirates are giving him a two-seam fastball this year, which is a pitch he threw in high school, but which was taken away so he could focus on four seam fastball command. The pitch isn’t something that he will rely on like Jameson Taillon did when he jumped to the majors, but will be a good situational offering for him.

“It’s a ton more movement,” Glasnow said of the two-seamer. “I think I just want to have a two-seam if I need a double play. I’m not exactly a ground ball pitcher, so to have a pitch that is a pretty common ground ball pitch, I’m glad to have it now.”

There aren’t any plans to add additional pitches, which means Glasnow will mostly attack with the four seam and curveball, with the changeup and two-seamer there to bail him out. That’s a good improvement over last year, when he only had one pitch to bail him out, and didn’t use it. Time will tell if that’s the case again with the changeup this year, but the addition of the two-seamer makes it more likely that he’ll have a third pitch he can trust when the other two aren’t working.

As for the command of the other two pitches, the hope is that the mechanical changes with the shortened stride will help fix those problems, or at least reduce the issues for Glasnow. He did walk four batters in five innings in the only start with the changes, although that’s only the first start. We’ll get a better idea of his progress when he starts throwing in games this year. Until then, all we can rely on are the signs from his throwing program. So far, Glasnow has been encouraged by the progress.

“In the season I’d have a good day of throwing, then bad. It was all over the place,” Glasnow said. “Now, everything feels consistent. It’s still early, but I’m just excited for the mound work during the season.”

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65 COMMENTS

  1. It is time to give him the number 5 starting spot in the rotation. Let him learn in the bigs. If he is to fragile to deal with it them they can drop him back to the minors. Screw years of control and start him.

  2. Well this is good news. He needs a 2 seamer. At times when your 4 seamer command is off, a 2 seamer can get you back on track (speaking from experience. Personally I had a lot of trouble (Like Liriano) with flying open early and throwing pitches basically in the left handed hitters chest- having a cutter allowed me to have the same release point and get it over the plate, it helped reset everything. If you are pulling pitches too much, or leaving pitches up a bit, a 2 seamer can help with the same thing.

  3. We simply CANNOT trade this guy for a guy whose got 850 innings on his arm over the past four years. Plus, all of the other talent that we are taking about.

    We ain’t ‘nutso’ here at the PBC F/O

    • That statement resonates with shades of Wandy Rodriguez. Similar circumstances re innings pitched, but he was 33 and Quintana will only turn 28 next week.

      I like Q, but is he our need or is our need to have guys step up and earn their salaries? I choose the latter and if that happened, we might not have a need to give away some of our finest prospects to make up for a lack of performance. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

      • I agree with all of this. You could argue that Glasnow has higher upside than Quintana and that Kingham’s upside might be equivalent to Quintana. Let’s just hope more of the current roster reaches their upside than does not.

        That being said, it would be nice to have a solid lefty…

      • So I flagged this and will remind you of what you said in mid July when the Bucs are mired in third place and wishing they had added another innings eater because the bullpen is wasted and nobody other than Nova goes more than Six innings. Glasnow will probably be a great pitcher in 2019 – but the Cubs will have won two more Division titles by then

  4. I have read Keith Law write about Tijuan Walker shortening his stride at some point in his career possibly to compensate for injury and how Keith Law believed it led to his fastball fkattenung out and him not getting the same break on his curveball. Any worry that tbe same thing could happen to Glasnow’s stuff?

    • The difference would be, Glasnow is shortening his stride back to where it was. Sounds like this past season he just started over striding, so he’s just trying to get back to ground zero.

      For Walker, it was more taking the stride he’d been using his entire life, and altering it.

  5. Only Pirate fans are worried about Glasnow, as people in baseball continue to put him at the top of pitching prospect lists. Once he gets confidence at the major league level, and a little more consistency, he will take off. He has dominating stuff.

    • You’re talking about two different things. The prospect lists are based on upside. The things being discussed about Glasnow on the local level are what he needs to do to reach that upside.

      • Many Pirate fans have already give up on the idea that Glasnow can become a #1, based on last year’s results, which is ridiculous.

        • The thing with Glasnow is that the areas he needs to improve now are the same things he needed to improve 2 years ago. He hasn’t done it yet. So it’s fully justified to doubt whether he will. He still has the upside of course, but it is probably less likely that he will reach it now than two years ago.

          But the bust rate for prospects is high. His chances of being a bust probably aren’t any worse than any other top-10 arm.

  6. I’m glad he’s working on things. The stride was an obvious place to start for a tall pitcher with command issues – so that at least makes sense on paper. I also was wondering if he was going to focus on the change up this offseason. Even if it doesn’t suddenly come together, at least he’s heading in the right direction

  7. John or Tim, if he throws the changeup and improves control, what do you think is a reasonable timeline to see him in the rotation in Pittsburgh? I cannot imagine they would give him a spot on Opening Day without any additional AAA/competitive work.

    • That probably depends just as much on how the season is going and if there is a competent substitute at Indy to allow him to stay down longer.

      I have no idea if the Pirates will consider doing this, but it’s interesting to consider. He will likely start the year in the minors, that seems safe at this point, though if he turns a corner in Spring Training, we might see him Opening Day. If not though, he spent 66 days in the majors last year. If they could keep him under 106 days this year, then they would still have six full seasons left. That would mean a June 19th or later call-up.

      Now I think Glasnow will be in control of when he gets called up, so if he’s dominating in April, they aren’t going to just leave him down for another two months to get one year (it would add an extra arbitration year, so it’s not to save money), but if we go through May and he still needs some polishing, it would make sense to get that extra year.

      It’s a lot of ifs, but it will be something to remember going into the year. You don’t really have to remember, we will definitely be keeping track if it starts getting close.

      • I would head into Spring training with Hutch, Brault, and Williams duking it out. Only if none are ready and Glasnow is doing well and pitching consistently would I put him on the opening day roster.
        Not just for control of his contract but also to give him time to build up some confidence in his new stride and two ‘new’ pitches.

  8. Tyler struggles when runners are on base. Hopefully in the Majors this year he can go better then 3-5 innings

  9. I’m glad he’s adding a 2-seamer, but unfortunately, I fear it doesn’t completely solve his problem with pitch variety. It will make him more effective against righties, but unless he finds a sort of command he’s never had before, it won’t be a weapon against lefties. The curve is a fine offspeed pitch for lefties, but I think the change (or a cutter) is still necessary for him to be a top of the rotation guy.

    Still, that 2-seamer coupled with the raw stuff, if this new stride improves his command at all, should make him a useful middle-of-the-rotation arm.

      • Out of curiosity, what does it take to learn the cutter? Melancon lives off of low nineties heat with a cutter. Why don’t more low nineties righties with fringe major league stuff learn this pitch? Probably because I am oversimplifying something that is very difficult…..

        • As I understand it, it’s a pretty tough pitch to spin right, and it’s tough to find the release point to throw it where you want it. If you throw it too hard, it flattens out, and if you spin it too hard, it gets loopy and plays more like a slider, which affects its effectiveness against opposite-handed batters. And then, obviously, if you can’t get a feel for how it’s moving, you’re either going to miss off the plate or in the middle of the plate, and you don’t wan either.

          Cutters and changeups are two pitches that you think about how they’re thrown and assume it should be easy to pick up, but they both involve so much feel that, in practice, it’s actually really difficult.

          That said, a pitcher like Glasnow seems to have a profile which favors a cutter.

  10. Sometimes the trades that are not made are the best ones. Hoping Glasnow and Bell both break out in a big way.

  11. Projected SPs for 2017 with projected WAR in ():
    Gerrit Cole (3.8)
    Jameson Tallion (3.6)
    Ivan Nova (2.5)
    Tyler Glasnow (2.0)
    Chad Kuhl (1.1)
    Total: 13 WAR Staff – IMO with considerable upside

    in comparison to Cubs 16′ staff:
    Kyle Hendricks (4.5)
    Jon Lester (4.3)
    Jake Arrieta (3.8)
    John Lackey (3.1)
    Jason Hammel (1.4)
    Total: 17.1

    Cubs 17′ projected staff:
    Kyle Hendricks (3.2)
    Jon Lester (4.5)
    Jake Arrieta (4.1)
    John Lackey (2.8)
    Mike Montgomery (1.9)
    Total: 16.5

    • Total agreement the Cubs staff is overrated. Arrieta became beatable. Bucs have done well vs Lester. Lackey is on the way down. Does anyone believe Hendricks will repeat. The Cubs will be tough to beat for the division but are beatable in a series especially with the pirate team that could come together by end of season without any trades. Fans are getting intimidated by their media hype.

      • I mean, I’d say fans are smart enough to also consider they’re bringing back almost everyone from a 100+ win, World Series championship squad but sure, TEH MEDIA!

        • …and also the fact that the Cubs’ hitters are mostly young and have considerable upside and that they have a very good system, and endless supply of money to take on whoever they want.

  12. Great work, Tim.

    Certainly does not speak well to the development staff in AAA, but kudos to the Pirates for getting Glasnow work at the big league level. This would be the pitching equivalent to Gregory Polanco’s case study for the need to finish development at the highest level. Searage noted Glasnow’s length almost immediately in an interview I remember reading, and as Tim showed, having peers like Cole seems to have helped as well.

    The org also deserves praise for making the necessary coaching adjustments at AAA and minor league coordinator positions. Constant evolution is a sign of a healthy and hungry organization.

  13. Unless he’s traded for Quintana or another proven SP, if the Pirates are going to make the postseason this year, Glasnow must be a significant contributor to the team.

    After Cutch and Cole having the type of season they’re capable of having, I’d say Glasnow is the most important player to success of team due to his ceiling being so high.

    • I don’t think he will have the opportunity early on. Do you think he has a chance of starting the year with the big club?

      • I think it depends on his performance in ST. With his ceiling, no other Prospect is going to deprive him of a spot in the rotation if he checks all the boxes Pirates want him to check.

  14. My main concern with this is that when pitchers start tinkering with their natural throwing motion, that’s when arm problems start. Glasnow can’t change the fact that he’s 6’8″, and he has to use his lower half to drive to the plate and maintain balance in his delivery. He starts trying to shorten his stride he may blow up everything else.

    • I think, and certainly hope, you’re reading too much into this. By shortening his stride, I take it to mean a small adjustment in length to allow him to finish in better balance to produce more consistency.

      • He has a *general* point, if not belabored in this specific instance.

        Some have blamed shortening the stride of Taijaun Walker, Lucas Giolito, and Aaron Sanchez (initially) for their subsequent struggles, and with decent reason. Short strides can more stress on the shoulder and disrupt timing.

        Glasnow, however, doesn’t appear to be *unnaturally* shortening his stride. It seems that the additional length to his stride last year was the issue, and shortening in this case is simply getting him back to even.

        • Think you are correct about that looking at the picture above. If he’s landing on his heel he’s more than likely “over” striding, which explain the command issues.

          What I’m concerned about is that when a kid has this type of natural ability and he’s struggling at this level, then he’s questioning himself and making changes that may not need to be made.

        • See Andrew Miller, similar height and control issues early in his career, shortened his stride and command has improved, time will tell.

    • Everyone has a happy medium, and I agree that taking away his stride will be a problem, but he’s not really doing that. He’s finding that natural fall point for his front foot where he doesn’t lose balance and timing between foot down and release. That’s not tinkering for the sake of tinkering, that’s necessary.

      He is 6’8″, and 6’8″ is a lot to coordinate. Making sure his front foot is actually under him seems like a good way to help coordinate it.

    • I kinda wonder if his arm/shoulder issues that put him on dl last year weren’t from his lengthened stride. If he was having to throw harder to get same veto, that stresses the arm, and lack of curveball command can lead to altering the normal release & motion.

  15. Will the shorter stride also help in holding runners? Or at the very least not allow them to get a running start on steal attempts?

    • He was doing a much better job of holding runners on during the start of the season, but what you saw in the majors was a huge difference than what was happening at Indianapolis. Through the end of June, runners were just 7-for-12 in steals against him. In 22 minor league games, no team stole more than one base in a game against him. In 2015, runners were 21-for-25 against him and had six games with more than one steal. In the majors, they were 9-for-9.

      If you only saw the majors, then it looked like he was concentrating more on throwing strikes than really worrying about the runners. That’s what we used to see from him all of the time.

      • He has a quicker, slide step delivery from the stretch that I watched as he warmed up in the BP before pitching against the Braves in ST last year. He threw FB mostly with excellent Command when he was using the slide step, but I do not remember him showing it in the game.

        When reading your comment John I had the thought that not many people stole on him in the minors because not many people got on base. He had a confidence at AAA that was missing in his brief exposure to the Majors, and that is definitely something that should be expected. If it was easy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . !

        • The amount of people on base was more than in the past. He posted his highest WHIP last year. Had nothing to do with the runners and more to do with him doing a better job of holding them on. He used the slide step once, literally. I saw it, asked Sean to ask him about it after the game, and he said he just wanted to try it there.

    • Controlling the running game depends more on throwing strikes than anything. If he can command three pitches this year the running game issues will decrease dramatically.

  16. I think when I questioned his extension the other day, I didn’t fully explain what I wanted to say. If you look at above picture posted of Tyler…. He’s 6’8 but yet he looks as almost he’s trying to go as low as he can to the dirt/mound, also see his heel planted into the ground that basically stops all moment and burst coming through the ball, basically stopping himself short then continuing to throw. He may have and always had great extension but his form, delivery and drive (power in legs) looks like he was almost cutting himself off and using his arm/ length to make up for an non fluid stride and motion.

    Great article and I look forward to seeing Tyler this year with a more relaxed and consistent motion/stride.

    • I have no problem with his stride, that a natural part of a pitching motion and should not be tinkered with. Landing on his heel, yes that needs to be corrected and was probably a result of either adding to his stride in order to generate more velocity.

      Glasnow is 6’8′, there’s nothing he can change about that and given his height he needs to take advantage of that and use his natural ability. Once he starts tinkering with what he does naturally he better make sure the rest of his mechanics are synced or else he’s an arm injury waiting to happen.

  17. I hope that his mound work excitement translates to a great year on the mound. I also hope that we look back on the Potential JQ trade and say “sometimes the best trades are the ones that a team DOESN’T make”.

    • Could not agree more. 22/23 years old in 2016 and posted a 4.24 ERA in 23 MLB innings. Some teams would be thrilled to have a kid like him throw that well – sometimes we just tend to get ahead of ourselves. Will not turn 24 until almost Sep. I was waiting to see his mental approach after having the off-season to mull it over. He sounds like he is going to fight for it.

      Looking forward to a trip down to ST.

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