BALTIMORE — Trust your stuff.
It’s some of the most basic, and most repeated, advice given to young pitchers as they get into pro ball. And especially when they are trying to establish themselves not just as major-leaguers, but crossing that final hurdle to be successful at the highest level.
“You always hear “Trust your stuff,’ and I remember when I was younger I was like, “What does that even mean? That’s just a dumb cliché,’’ Rays starter Tyler Glasnow was saying the other day. “But it really means a lot now. That’s something that a lot of guys in the big leagues eventually figure out. It’s just really that confidence is the No. 1 thing in baseball.’’
Right now, Glasnow has it all.
And the success.
He showed all of that, and more, again Friday in another dazzling performance, leading the Rays to a 7-0 win over the Orioles, and becoming the first six-game winner in the majors.
He had some help, of course, with a check-swing double by Tommy Pham giving the Rays a first-inning lead and a three-run homer by catcher Mike Zunino, snapping an 0-for-17, created a margin they expanded in improving to 21-11.
But Glasnow, who on Thursday was named the American League Pitcher of the Month, was the story, dominating from the start in working seven sterling innings. He improved his record to a majors-best 6-0 and lowered his ERA to an AL-leading 1.47.
Mixing a fastball nudging triple digits, a biting curve and few more of his new-toy changeups, Glasnow struck out the side in the first and retired the first 11 Orioles before allowing the first of three single – an infield bouncer, a blooper and one clean one. He struck out eight and walked none, throwing 62 of 92 pitches for strikes.
“It doesn’t look,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash said, “like it’s very much fun stepping in the batter’s box against him right now.’’
“Glasnow was absolutely disgusting,’’ Baltimore’s Trey Mancini said. “Dude threw a good game.’’
That he’s done well is one thing. That’s he’s done this well for this long, seven starts, all strong and with two or fewer runs allowed is something else.
“I would put his stuff against anybody’s in the league and that’s not a hard statement to make because it’s up there,’’ Zunino said. “It’s him continuing to learn, continuing to put that time in. He works extremely hard. And I think pitching now is coming to him and he’s getting a good idea of what he wants to do and what he needs to do.’’
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Glasnow’s breakout success in his first full season with the Rays after being acquired in July from Pittsburgh with outfielder Austin Meadows and prospect Shane Baz for starter Chris Archer, has become something of a national story.
But among the thousands of words being typed and tossed around, there is a somewhat simple explanation of the turnaround for a guy who the Pirates had essentially given up on and moved to the bullpen.
The trade provided Glasnow, 25, a needed fresh start, and the chance to go back to being a starter. Talks with Blake Snell after the trade and Charlie Morton this spring led to adopting a more intense and aggressive mindset, and the discipline to maintain it. He became more physical, and thus less mechanical, in throwing his fastball really hard and snapping off his curveball. And he developed the confidence that what he was doing, especially in the strike zone, was good enough.
“I’d say that every big-leaguer needs to realize that at some point,’’ Glasnow said. “Just the feeling of knowing you belong and the feeling of just believing in your stuff.’’
Also, the ability on days when he isn’t feeling it “to go into your brain and convince yourself that’s real.’’
Plus, he acknowledged after Friday’s game, it helps to a little bit of attitude. “From the second I wake up I just try to radiate confidence and just get angry,’’ he said. “And that usually helps me. I guess anger is the opposite of fear and it helps me get rid of my nerves and stay athletic.’’
Pitching coach Kyle Snyder said young pitchers often battle to get to that point of believing in themselves, and simplifying things can help.
“Over the last however many years we’ve probably gotten stuck focusing a little bit too munch on pitching especially when you’re considering the stuff that this kid has,’’ Snyder said. “And understanding that, you know what, we can go out there and try to take it out of the umpire’s hands. Just force the swing, try to get guys down in the count – use your best fastball and get chase on your breaking ball out of the zone.’’
And from that basic plan, has come significant success.
“The kid’s extremely talented, he has arguably as good as stuff as anybody in baseball and he’s putting it to work,’’ Snyder said.
Glasnow gets some gently worded questions about when his hot start will turn cool.
Nice try. In his mind, this is the new normal.
“I’m just continuing to put my head down,’’ he said. “Keep working. Just don’t ever get content. And stay locked in.’’
Trust his stuff.
Contact Marc Topkin at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.