MIAMI — Slap a warning label on the highlights, and ship them out for Major League Baseball hitters to see:
Tyler Glasnow has a new pitch, and your job just got a lot harder.
As if it wasn’t challenging enough to face a 6-foot-8 pitcher with a high-octane fastball and a curve that breaks from here-to-there, the Rays right-hander officially unveiled his new slider on opening day against the Marlins and the results were, shall we say, intriguing.
Glasnow threw six innings of one-hit shutout ball, and even that doesn’t do justice to his performance in Tampa Bay’s 1-0 victory.
“The way he can manipulate the baseball, the power he features with all of his pitches, the amount of depth he creates on the breaking ball, the (cutting) action on the fastball,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “There’s just not a ton of pitchers in this game that feature his weapons. There’s some guys that are very, very talented, no denying that.
“But I think it’s fair that Tyler is right in that mix.”
For much of his pro career, Glasnow has been a two-pitch guy. He messed around with a slider a few years ago and occasionally breaks out a changeup, but he’s basically been a fastball/curveball pitcher. And that’s been good enough. Glasnow was 11-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 23 regular-season starts between 2019-20.
But looking to expand his repertoire, Glasnow worked with pitching coach Kyle Snyder on a slider that would fit nicely in the 88- to 90-mph range between his fastball (97-98 mph) and his curve (83-84 mph).
“He’s nasty and being able to add that (slider), it’s just not really fair,” leftfielder Austin Meadows said. “He’s come a long way and to personally see him grow and reach the height of his potential, where he’s at right now, is super impressive. The sky is the limit for him.”
Glasnow, 27, used the slider during spring games, so it should not have come as a shock to Marlins hitters, but the frequency of the pitch seemed to keep them off-balance. Unofficially, Glasnow threw the slider on 38 percent of his pitches. Of his six strikeouts, five came on breaking pitches.
“I know my curveball is always going to be there, especially (with) two strikes,” Glasnow said. “I just think I have more of an aggressive mentality with that slider because it stays in the zone longer.”
Rays hitters have been talking about Glasnow’s slider all spring, and it no longer sounds like hyperbole.
“I told him yesterday, I said, ‘This is your year. This is your year to dominate from start to finish,”’ centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. “He controls his own destiny. He can be as good as he wants to be.”
John Romano can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.
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