The Tampa Bay Rays were one of the busiest teams of this year’s non-waiver trade deadline. The biggest trade they made was the one that sent right-handed pitcher Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for righty Tyler Glasnow, outfielder Austin Meadows, and a player to be named later. Trades can rarely be evaluated after little more than a week, especially a trade like this where every player involved has a chance to be a long-term asset for their new team. However, the Rays couldn’t be any happier with the early results from Glasnow.
What the Tampa Bay Rays Have in Tyler Glasnow
A 17-year-old coming out of high school in 2011, Glasnow was drafted in the fifth round by the Pirates. He quickly became a top prospect as he rose through Pittsburgh’s system as a 6’8” righty with an upper-90’s fastball. Glasnow reached the big leagues for the first time in 2016, making four starts for the Pirates. He got a more extended opportunity last year, making 13 starts. Glasnow struggled mightily, going 2-7 with a 7.69 ERA, 6.30 FIP, and 2.02 WHIP. The biggest problem for Glasnow was his control. He issued 44 walks in 62 innings, good for an ugly rate of 6.39 per nine innings.
After his struggles last season, the Pirates tried using Glasnow as a reliever this year. In 34 appearances he had a 4.34 ERA, 3.61 FIP, and 1.45 WHIP. Glasnow racked up the strikeouts out of the bullpen, posting 72 of them in 56 innings (11.57 per nine). Walks were still a problem, though, as he issued 34 of them. The rate of 5.46 per nine was an improvement, but still far too high.
One of the biggest keys to having good control as a pitcher is to have consistent mechanics and a repeatable delivery. That can be a challenge for a pitcher as tall as Glasnow. It’s just not easy to precisely and consistently control such a large body. So it can’t hurt that his new pitching coach with the Rays, Kyle Snyder, also happens to stand at 6’8”. After all, who better to help Glasnow learn how to control his body than a former big-league pitcher who happens to be the same height?
Whatever Snyder’s been telling Glasnow already seems to be working. Having pitched out of the bullpen all year with the Pirates, the Rays are now trying to stretch him out to use him as a starter again. He made his debut for the Rays just one day after the trade, working three innings against the Los Angeles Angels. His made his second start on Tuesday, working four innings against the Baltimore Orioles.
How did Glasnow fare? Well, he has 14 strikeouts in those seven innings. He’s faced 25 batters in a Rays uniform, and he’s struck out 56% of them. As for his control? He’s only walked one batter. That walk came on a full count, and it was issued to Mike Trout, whom there’s no shame in walking.
Glasnow’s given up two runs with the Rays, both of which came on solo home runs. Those were also the only two fly balls he’s allowed. Because of those home runs, Glasnow’s ERA with the Rays is 2.57, and his FIP is 3.29. However, his xFIP — which is FIP with a normalized home run rate — is 0.05.
Of course, we’re dealing with very small sample sizes here. Glasnow’s not going to continue to strike out two batters for every inning he pitches, and he’s certainly not going to continue to allow home runs on 100% of fly balls. But even if he’s only pitched seven innings for the Rays so far, Glasnow striking out 14 batters while only issuing one walk over those seven innings is incredibly encouraging. We’ll see what Glasnow’s able to do as the Rays continue to stretch him out and he pitches deeper into the games, but it’s hard to make a better first impression than the one Glasnow has made in Tampa Bay.
Meanwhile, Archer struggled in his first start for the Pirates. He gave up a home run to the first batter he faced and ended up allowing five runs (four earned) over just 4.1 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals, issuing four walks though also striking out six. Again, we’re a long way away from being able to declare who got the better end of this trade. But while this deal was supposed to be more about the present for Pittsburgh, and more about the future for Tampa Bay, it’s actually been the Rays who’ve enjoyed the better immediate results from it.
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