PITTSBURGH — Tyler Glasnow set out to fix a lot of his problems this offseason. He wanted to command his fastball better, be shorter to the plate to cut down on the running game, he changed his changeup grip with the hopes of that pitch becoming more of a weapon and continued to try to be more pitch efficient.

In short, Glasnow had a lot of work to do. In his first start of the season against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, he looked like a pitcher that still has a lot of work to do.

The running game was an issue from the get-go as Billy Hamilton singled to lead off the game and then immediately stole second. Glasnow walked five, gave up five stolen bases and allowed five runs in 1.2 innings as the Reds rolled to a 7-1 victory.

Tyler Glasnow’s start — Baseball Savant

His command was just all over the place. Not only was he missing the strike zone, some of his pitches weren’t even close. Glasnow said that he felt like he was trying to throw too hard. When that happens, it lengthens out his delivery, makes him slower to the plate and takes velocity off his fastball.

“I think a lot of it was trying to do too much and getting a little long,” Glasnow said. “It’s the opposite – trying to throw too hard and spread out and it starts to go slower.”

Glasnow wasn’t falling behind hitters — he started 10 of his 16 batters off with a strike — but then was seemingly unable to put them away. In the first, he got Joey Votto to a 1-2 count before Votto fouled off two more before walking to start what became a series of four consecutive free passes. All four of them were 3-2 counts, Glasnow just couldn’t find a pitch to make an out. Catcher Francisco Cervelli felt that he let the game get away from Glasnow a little bit at that point.

“I’m gonna take the bullets because I didn’t guide him the way I’m supposed to,” he said. “I didn’t pay attention to the little details and it just went away so quick. Next time, I just have to slow it down a little more and make him feel more comfortable. The thing is, he has a lot of talent. I have to do my job and guide him.”

Hamilton is a pest for most major-league pitchers, but the fact that Glasnow allowed stolen bases by the likes of Adam Duvall (six stolen bases in 2016) and Eugenio Suarez (11 stolen bases in 2016) is particularly discouraging.

“When you have a release time like we had tonight on the mound, people are going to run on you up here. It’s no secret. They have stop watches at first base. They’ve got them in the dugout. When you’re clicking off 1.5 (seconds) with your release time, guys are going to run. Guys with average speed are going to run. They have an athletic team in the lineup. The guys have the ability to steal bases when they run and the catcher can’t make up the other side of it.”

The combination of issues with command and issue with the running game seemed to compound one another. Issuing walks meant more baserunners. Baserunners meant more pitching out of the stretch and less focus on the hitter, which meant even more baserunners.

“It’s tough because he’s trying to throw strikes and they’re running everywhere,” Cervelli said. “It’s gotta be tough. But like I said, I just have to keep the pace of the game and have good body language and be positive and just keep going.”

As of now, Glasnow still expects to make his next start on Saturday in Chicago. He said he needs to “throw it away, move on and get ready to pitch in five days.” He also has some experiences to draw on in the past.

“I’ve had bad outings before,” he said. “The minor leagues teaches you how to not dwell on the starts, so I’m going to go out and do a work week like I just threw a perfect game. Don’t change in between the weeks. Do what you can. Come to the field, get your work done and just prepare.”

Glasnow also added that he didn’t feel that the extended time between outings had anything to do with his performance.

NOT ENOUGH BATS OR ARMS

The Pirates had a few chances to put a dent in the hole they started out in, but left eight men on base over the first three innings, including twice when they had the bases loaded with no outs. That was exacerbated by the presence of reliever Wade LeBlanc in the batter’s box. LeBlanc came up with the bases loaded twice and struck out twice. He had a career .250 batting average coming in, so it’s not as if LeBlanc isn’t capable, but Hurdle clearly had better options on the bench.

The problem was in the bullpen, where Juan Nicasio, Felipe Rivero and Trevor Williams were all unavailable. Hurdle said he had no regrets about that strategy decision afterward.

“None whatsoever, based on who we had available,” he said. “Unfortunately, at that point in time, not getting the distance from our starter, we did the best we could do with what we had. LeBlanc was throwing aces out there.”

LeBlanc ended up going 5.1 innings with one run allowed, saving the bullpen from any further overuse.

NOTES

Antonio Bastardo gave up a solo home run in his two innings of work in the eighth and ninth. … Josh Harrison (right calf) was available off the bench but did not play. … John Jaso made his first appearance of the season in right field, staying in the game after pinch hitting. … The Pirates went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and finished the game on an 0-for-21 streak at the plate.

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38 COMMENTS

  1. Shame he done so poorly but I still think he has it within himself to improve. He seems to lack confidence. Hopefully it will come with repetition. Lets not give up on him just yet.

  2. This shouldn’t be about Tyler Glasnow. I don’t like how Hurdle used TG as an excuse to cover up his own fallacies as a manager. His remarks sound bad, look bad and make a young pitcher feel worse. Whoever we have throwing the ball is going to have a hard time getting a W this season with the pathetic hitting performances so far. It is just a continuation of last year. I am sure that Hurdle has a reason for why it was TGs fault that the Pirates loaded the bases twice with no outs but could only bring one man across (on a walk). Not to mention failing to score on two other occasions with men on first and second with no outs. I am sure guys had to be more aggressive since they were in a whole early because of the “guy on the mound”. This team could have picked TG up several times but couldn’t in the highest of leverage situations. Yea TG looked horrible but, the bigger and more alarming story line is that the Pirates choke when it matters most. Unless the other team gives them runs we will continue to see mind boggling and more depressing ways to not score.

  3. As some others have mentioned my larger concern at this point in this very short season is that the offense has sucked for the most part. And without so many gifts from Atlanta’s defense we are probably 1-5.

  4. I’m sorry if this is a dumb question but what is the correct call with LeBlanc at bat with bases loaded, no outs? Hoping for a hit has to be a slight chance since he has so little hitting experience. Hitting into a double play would be awful. Why not bunt? At least it takes away the double play. Put on a squeeze play or something?

    • That was frustrating for me to watch as well, but my guess is that Hurdle thought you can’t take your only available long reliever out of the game that early.

      Had LeBlanc been pinch-hit for, we would have used every arm in the bullpen last night.

    • To me, the correct call would have been to use Bastardo first or double-switch when LeBlanc came in to avoid having him hit so soon.

  5. Compliments to the Reds for being so aggressive and getting in Glasnow’s head early…although it’s no big secret with Glasnow.

  6. Fun fact: Antonio Bastardo has given up a home run in each of his three appearances this season. Not a bad deal for $6.625 million. Nice work, if you can get it.

  7. We have zero margin of error this year. Learning on the job for glasnow won’t help playoff hopes. Can someone identify a silver lining in that start? Yikes!

    • It’s one start made two days late to begin the season. I would caution against reading too much into it.

      TG is going to be mercurial his entire career. We just have to hope he can both settle his nerves and settle his mechanics more often than not.

      • Would it be crazy to start him in the bullpen so he can work on one inning successes, build to more, etc?

        • I said something to that effect last year and Tim said quite emphatically that TG is not being moved to bullpen.

          I personally think the Pirates are going to give TG a long leash as a SP. I just don’t see them playing mind games with him by moving him to bullpen or AAA because of some bad outings.

          • It wouldn’t be mind games. I agree he’s a starter-type. Not giving up on that. The suggestion would be to build his confidence at this level by starting with smaller, shorter tasks. The issues he exhibited yesterday don’t look much different that those exhibited in 2016 when he started with the big club.

            • The reality is that the Pirates play 15 games in the next 16 days – not the time to worry about how we use TG. I said going in that the No. 5 guy would possibly only see 2 starts in April, and TG needs some time to get his head in the right place.

              Move him to AAA for at least 2 starts, put Trevor Williams in the No. 5 SP slot and bring up Neverauskas to add to the BP. Also, for this 16 day period I might want to send Gosselin down (he has options) and bring up Brault also. There are teams that need relievers – Bastardo could be just the right guy to help somebody out, regardless of how much of his contract we have to eat.

              • That all seems reasonable. Not sure if you end up “wasting” an option for Glasnow. Maybe just have him and Williams flip roles until Glasnow gets his mojo. I’ll throw in another idea — trade Jaso. Looking like a dude w/o a clear role to justify his $4m salary. Just doesn’t add much to the already weak offense. I suppose that’ll have to wait until later in the season.

  8. The bad start is something of the variety we won’t see much more of Glasnow will get his act together or be replaced by another pitcher. The left on base is a lot more concerning.

    • I tend to agree. Certainly there is hope Glassnow can get better. My comment was about the lineup. The Pirates didn’t add any offense in the off-season, and, in fact they lost Rodriguez, Joyce and Kang. Last year’s team, if you’ll remember, was offensively inept. Sooooo not really basing my comment on a few games.

  9. I thought Tyler Glasnow was horrible last night That said, if the best they can muster against lousy pitching is one Ron, they are going absolutely nowhere.

    • I thought Glasnow was one step better than the performance of
      Caminaro when he kept hitting batters. In both cases, it was
      hard to watch.

  10. It may very well be that TG is not quite ready for a MLB rotation. There’s no shame to that he’s only 23. He wasn’t ready last year either. Brault may have a lower long term ceiling but he may very well be a better option at No. 5 than TG. If he blows up like this against the Cubs, a very real possibility, then they need to start considering a change, they can’t give up games like this. Bastardo and LeBlanc are puzzling too when they have power arms like Edgar Santana and Neverauskas in Indy. And by the way, play Hanson and Frazier more…..Frazier looks like a player at least with the bat, and Hanson’s speed needs to be used at every opportunity.

    • Ironic you suggest sending a power arm Glasnow down and replace him with junk ballers, but at the same time suggest getting rid of veteran bullpen arms for even less experienced power arms. Glasnow unfortunately has nothing to prove in AAA and will have to learn and take his lumps in the majors. Short term answer may be to flip him and Williams if he can’t get more efficient

      • Absolutely – It’s all in his head. He needs to learn the mental part of the game. If he can’t in the majors, he is done. The talent is there. the tool he is not using is knowing how good he is and let it happen. stop forcing it.

      • Yeah, Williams looked good this spring and has succeeded in his (small sample size) appearances so far this season.

        I think this team is better off right now with him in the rotation instead of Glasnow. We’re not rebuilding and throwing away games at the start of the season could mean the difference between a wild card spot or nothing at the end of the year.

    • TG was not all that bad, but like many young pitchers, when he starts to have location issues, he does not react well – it will come.

      Twice having the reliever at the plate with the bases loaded? Why start TG with 3 long relievers out? Taillon already had 4 days rest – possibly holding TG until Tue or Wed may have been better?

      With Harrison out, Hurdle started Gosselin at 2B Sunday – a RH hitter against a strong RH pitcher. Last night he started Frazier at 2B – a LH hitter against a LH pitcher. Hanson is a switchhitter. Somebody else like NH has to make sense of that mind game BS. For Hanson it has to seem like the same as he got from Hurdle when called up last Sep.

    • Conflicted about Frazier. The bat seems great but in the first few games of the season he looks like a major liability on defense. Another error last night on an easy play. I still have hopes that this is a small sample size and he’ll be an average defender going forward, but what happens if he is not?

      • Frazier struggled in the minors as a SS and our developmental folks eventually moved him out of the IF in favor of better defenders like Ngoepe at SS, Hanson, Moroff, and Weiss at 2B, etc. CH is always looking for a round peg to put into a square hole, but in this case, I think he should have followed the guidelines of the developmental people. Get him AB’s as a utility player mostly in the OF.

        One thing for sure though, when you try to hide a guy in the field, the ball always seems to find them. That game last night was pitiful in a lot of ways, and that should be owned by the Manager.

      • Frazier only has one error on the season and none during Spring training. Looks like he’s worked on his defense to me.

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