Monday, October 15, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tyler Glasnow and the trouble with tall baseball players

ST. PETERSBURG — Tyler Glasnow, the pitcher who came over to the Rays from the Pirates last week along with outfield prospect Austin Meadows in the Chris Archer trade, features a 97 mph heater that makes hitters sweat and a 12-to-6 curveball that makes their knees buckle.

You would think that's all people would ever want to talk about.

But it's not.

"Hey, tall guy, do you play basketball?"

He gets that a lot.

" 'No, I play baseball,' " he says he tells them. "Or depending on where I'm at, I'll just be like, 'No, I do nothing,' if I'm not trying to get into the whole baseball thing."

As it turns out, there are some drawbacks to being 6 feet, 8 inches tall.

It's understandable why strangers would guess Glasnow plays basketball. Giants in baseball are surprisingly rare.

I searched several baseball databases to find out just how rare. The count of players who stood at least 6 feet, 8 inches: 45.

Forty-five. In all of baseball history. From Johnny Gee, born in 1915, to Glasnow, born in 1993.

Coincidentally, the Rays have rostered five of the 45: Mark Hendrickson (2004-06), Jeff Niemann (2008-12), Dane De La Rosa (2011-12), Adam Russell (2011) and Glasnow.

Success for baseball's giants has been hard to come by. Only four have posted more than 20 wins above replacement in their career. The best one? Randy Johnson. He had a pretty good career. But the 6-foot-10 Hall of Famer is the exception.

It makes sense why hitters might struggle. They have a larger strike zone to cover. But why pitchers?

Their margin for error is incredibly small. If one part of their delivery is out of whack, they'll have trouble locating their pitches consistently.

Take it from Niemann, who at 6 feet 9, 285 pounds was one of the largest pitchers ever to toe the rubber.

"Tall pitchers are naturally going to have a longer path to release, and any flaw in that path is expanded," he said. "So that's what makes the basic idea of repeating quality pitches, pitching, more difficult for bigger guys because it's simply harder to get bigger, heavier pieces to work together."

As great as Glasnow's stuff is, he has struggled with his command since his callup in July 2016. While with the Pirates, he struck out 9.7 batters per nine innings but walked 5.7.

The Rays, though, like Glasnow's potential, and they have the man who can help — pitching coach Kyle Snyder, who also is 6-8.

"That was the first thing I thought of when I got traded over here," Glasnow, 24, said. "My agent texted me, a couple of people were like, 'Man, your pitching coach is 6-8, so that'll be great.' Even talking to him, I'm super-excited. He's one of the more knowledgeable pitching coaches I've ever had."

Snyder, who spent the previous three seasons as pitching coach for Triple-A Durham, had a chance to watch Glasnow when the Pirates' International League affiliate played the Bulls.

"I saw him in Indianapolis the past couple of years, in 2016 and 2017," Snyder said. "I was intrigued by him. He pitched really, really well against us. I guess to some degree I was intrigued by (the trade) because we're similar sizes, and there's a lot that comes with that and understanding, I suppose, somewhat of the platform it provides me is recognizing that it's not all that easy."

Piecing together a repeatable delivery will take time and patience, Snyder said.

"It takes reps at certain levels," he said. "It takes reps at the big-league level. It takes reps at the upper levels of the minor leagues, where (Glasnow has) obviously dominated. I think it requires a little bit more patience of the individual, of the organization and of the staff, recognizing that there is more to kind of hone in and organize."

Within the past year, Glasnow has made a significant change to his delivery. When the Pirates optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis in June 2017, he abandoned the windup that pitchers typically use when the bases are empty. He started working exclusively from the stretch.

"I think for me it simplifies movements," Glasnow said. "I'm a pretty big momentum pitcher. The windup was just extra movement that I didn't really need. I can still get that momentum in the stretch."

The sample size is small, but the results are trending in the right direction, even if there's room for improvement. In 59 innings this season, Glasnow is walking 5.3 batters per nine innings, down from 6.4 last season. In his Rays debut Wednesday, against the Angels at Tropicana Field, he struck out five and walked one in three innings.

For now, Glasnow plans on continuing to work exclusively from the stretch.

"He knows there's some things, some consistency that will always be an issue for a 6-foot-8 pitcher," manager Kevin Cash said. "If this simplifies something, we're good with it. If he wants to go back to the windup, we're fine with that, too.

"We just want to get him to where he's staying in one lane, keeping the ball over the plate, giving himself the chance to get some early swings, and control the count."

Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

Comments
Rays’ Rocco Baldelli interviews with Rangers

Rays’ Rocco Baldelli interviews with Rangers

Interest in Rays coach Rocco Baldelli as a manager continues to grow, as he interviewed for another opening on Monday, this time with the Texas Rangers.Baldelli, 37, has also interviewed with the Reds, and reportedly with the Twins. The Angels and Bl...
Updated: 3 hours ago
David Price finally leads Red Sox to a postseason victory. Sort of

David Price finally leads Red Sox to a postseason victory. Sort of

BOSTON — According to standard baseball measurements, David Price did not pitch well on Sunday night. The former Ray gave up four runs in fewer than five innings, handed back a lead that his Boston Red Sox teammates had given him in the first inning ...
Published: 10/15/18
Sports Illustrated: Rays were baseball’s ‘most consequential’ team in 2018

Sports Illustrated: Rays were baseball’s ‘most consequential’ team in 2018

They won't win the World Series. And they didn't even make the playoffs.Yet, the Rays were baseball's "most consequential baseball team" this season, according to Sports Illustrated.The opener strategy first employed by the Rays presents "the biggest...
Published: 10/15/18
Add Reds to teams Rays’ Rocco Baldelli has talked with

Add Reds to teams Rays’ Rocco Baldelli has talked with

We told you in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times that Rays coach Rocco Baldelli was a "hot name" for the six current managerial openings, and had already been connected with the Blue Jays, Rangers and Twins.There was word Sunday morning of formal contact with...
Published: 10/14/18
Rays Tales: Is moving on from C.J. Cron the right move?

Rays Tales: Is moving on from C.J. Cron the right move?

ST. PETERSBURG —The Rays' primary target this offseason seems to be adding a right-handed impact bat.And to do so, they are likely to get rid of the one they have, 30-homer hitting 1B/DH C.J. Cron.Why?In short, to try to upgrade. And gain some ...
Published: 10/13/18
Updated: 10/15/18
Rays collecting donations for Hurricane Michael relief

Rays collecting donations for Hurricane Michael relief

The Rays are collecting donations to help those in the Panhandle affected by Hurricane Michael.You can donate from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday and 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday at the Tropicana Field Gate 4 dropoff circle at 16th Street near Fifth Avenue S in St. Pe...
Published: 10/13/18
Michelle Margaux leaving Rays TV broadcasts, heading to Houston

Michelle Margaux leaving Rays TV broadcasts, heading to Houston

Michelle Margaux is leaving Fox Sports Sun after one season as the reporter on Rays broadcasts and heading Houston to cover the NBA Rockets as the in-game reporter for AT&T SportsNet.Margaux will also have some hosting duties and work some Astros gam...
Published: 10/10/18
Rays VP Chaim Bloom interviews for Mets GM job

Rays VP Chaim Bloom interviews for Mets GM job

Rays senior VP Chaim Bloom is expected to be a candidate for several GM-level job this winter, and he reportedly had his first interview Wednesday, talking with Mets officials about their vacancy.The New York Post's Mike Puma reported Wednesday that ...
Published: 10/10/18
What they’re saying about Kevin Cash’s new deal with Rays

What they’re saying about Kevin Cash’s new deal with Rays

Reaction to Kevin Cash's contract extension that has him signed with the Rays through 2024, with a one-year option: Rays veteran CF Kevin Kiermaier:"Today is a great day for the Tampa Bay Rays organization extending Kevin Cash. We all know what he br...
Published: 10/10/18
Rick Stroud-Tom Jones debate: Will Rays win AL East during Kevin Cash’s tenure?

Rick Stroud-Tom Jones debate: Will Rays win AL East during Kevin Cash’s tenure?

Will the Rays win an American League East title under manager Kevin Cash, who on Tuesday had his contract extended through 2024?Times sports columnist Tom Jones and staff writer Rick Stroud debated the topic on Bay News 9's Spectrum Sports 360 show."...
Published: 10/10/18