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Sizing up Rays’ Tyler Glasnow: From spin rate to family matters

Rays starter Tyler Glasnow gives up six runs in the first inning to the Blue Jays on Sept. 5, 2018. (The Canadian Press via Associated Press)
Rays starter Tyler Glasnow gives up six runs in the first inning to the Blue Jays on Sept. 5, 2018. (The Canadian Press via Associated Press)
Published Sep. 6, 2018|Updated Sep. 6, 2018

TORONTO — The Rays' process of discovery with Tyler Glasnow will be ongoing.

On Friday, they saw him at, to this point anyway, his best, as the hard-throwing right-hander dueled Indians ace Corey Kluber for seven dazzling innings, allowing only two hits and one run.

Then Wednesday, they saw him at what they can only hope is his worst, as he didn't make it out of a miserable first inning against the Blue Jays, allowing five hits, two walks and seven runs.

As the first of the three pieces that came from Pittsburgh in the Chris Archer trade to join the Rays, Glasnow has obviously been of considerable interest.

That he impressed so much in his work before Wednesday — 0-2, 3.23 with 38 strikeouts in 30⅔ innings over six starts — had made the trade look good, along with the Rays' decision to turn him loose as a starter again after the Pirates had put him in the bullpen.

Even more so as Archer got off to an unimpressive 1-2, 5.40 start in black and gold.

Glasnow's strategy has been to pitch to his strengths, which is primarily a power game featuring an upper 90s fastball with a big curve and a harder version he calls a slider.

Going into Wednesday, the 25-year-old said he was ready and prepared, not concerned about anything like his previous outing or where the Rays were in the standings.

"When you're pitching, you have to eliminate everything you can't control,'' he said. "I know it's cliche, but when I'm out there, I'm only thinking about getting the guy out who's up at-bat at that time.''

Here are some other things to know about Glasnow:

You know what they say

Size matters for Glasnow, who is 6 feet 8 and maximizes his long arms and legs to create the leverage and drive that allows him to average 97.4 mph on his fastball. Also relevant is he has long fingers and big hands. Having lengthy digits allows for a better grip on the ball and the opportunity to create more spin, which makes pitches more effective. Specifically the curveball, which he says he can wrap his fingers "around pretty far and pretty tight.'' Long fingers were many of the attributes that made Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax successful.

Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder, who also has long fingers, said he wouldn't get into the specifics and science of "grip surveys" — who knew? — but acknowledged Glasnow has an inherent advantage in spinning the ball better: "There is no question there's a strong relationship there.''

Statcast data sorted via baseballsavant.com shows it. Glasnow's spin rate of 2,820 revolutions per minute on his curveball is eighth highest of all pitchers who've throw at least 250 curves and at least 1,250 pitches. And the 2,393 rate on his fastball is 13th of all pitchers who threw at least 500.

By the way, he wears size 16 shoes.

Family affair

Glasnow is from an athletic family.

Older brother Ted was an All-Big East decathlete at Notre Dame and a standout with the Santa Barbara Track Club with Olympic aspirations for a while. Mom Donna competed in gymnastics at Fullerton State, then coached Cal-State Northridge to a Division II national championship in 1982. Dad Greg, when not running his hardwood flooring manufacturing and installation companies ("Probably the busiest human being alive,'' Tyler said), is a regular at the gym. Yes, they are tall — dad is 6-3, brother 6-2, mom 5-9. Tyler played just about all the ball sports growing up, and he also ran track as a sprinter and was a pretty good high jumper.

Fashionable couple

Glasnow's longtime girlfriend might some day, if not already, be more famous than him. Though Glasnow typically initially says Brooke Register works in the fashion industry, the reality is she is a fashion model for a New York agency who has done major campaigns for L.L. Bean and Belk among other companies, appeared on the cover of several European magazines, and has an extensive list of editorial projects she is working on.

Register had reason to be pleased with the trade from Pittsburgh, as she is a Florida girl, growing up in Oviedo, northeast of Orlando. "Her parents still live there, so they were pretty happy,'' Glasnow said. "She was pretty excited, too. The weather is better, and there's healthier food.''

Well-schooled

Long before Glasnow came over from the Pirates, he heard about the legacy of James Shields, who is considered the patriarch of the Rays' pitching success. That's because Glasnow went to the same Hart High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., as Shields. And Cleveland right-hander Trevor Bauer, Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery, Rockies shortstop Pat Valaika. That's five players from the same school currently in the majors, and more than a dozen total, including former standouts such as right-hander Bob Walk and third baseman/catcher Todd Zeile.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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