On Tuesday night, Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow will make his fourth start of the season, this one coming against the Baltimore Orioles (streaming regionally on fuboTV). While the Orioles have played better than expected — they’ll enter with a 7-10 record, good for second place behind the Rays in the American League East — they’re in for a long night. The Orioles have more hitters with an adjusted weighted runs created under 70 (seven) than they do over 90 (four). Glasnow, meanwhile, has struck out 21 and permitted one run over his first 17 innings. Ruh roh.
As common as it is to describe an excelling pitcher as “looking different,” it’s true with Glasnow. He does look different than his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and even his time with the Rays following last trade deadline’s Chris Archer deal. Glasnow has altered his delivery to be quicker to the plate with runners on, and has at times pitched from his truncated delivery with nobody on. Here’s a look at the difference in the two (keep in mind most starters cut down on their leg kick once runners reach base):
Those tweaks aren’t the only Glasnow has made. He’s pitching up in the zone with his fastball far more often than in the past — a shift that began last season but has intensified this year:
Perhaps predictably, given he has a 0.53 ERA, the whole thing is working. Glasnow is generating more than 20 percent whiffs on his mid-to-upper-90s fastball, and is over 40 percent with his elite curveball. What’s more is that he’s throwing strikes at a previously inconceivable rate: 67 percent entering Tuesday. This is the same Glasnow who threw less than 60 percent strikes across 140-odd innings with the Pirates. Seeing as how command was the barrier preventing him from becoming a front-of-the-line starter, it’s fair to write the Rays have reason to be excited.
This version of Glasnow — the one wielding his fastball and curveball like fire and brimstone — plus the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and veteran free-agent signing Charlie Morton, gives the Rays a devastating three-man combination at the top of their rotation. One that, as things stand, looks like it could wreak havoc when the postseason rolls around.