Pirates Name Tyler Glasnow as the Fifth Starter, Decide Bullpen Battle

After Friday night’s game in Montreal, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that Tyler Glasnow has won the fifth starter spot. They also announced that Trevor Williams and Wade LeBlanc will be in the bullpen along with Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero, Daniel Hudson, Juan Nicasio and Antonio Bastardo. Tyler Webb has been offered back to the Yankees as part of the Rule 5 process.

Glasnow ranks as the #3 prospect for the Pirates coming into this season. He didn’t have the best outings this spring, though he impressed with 23 strikeouts over 14.1 innings. He had a 5.65 ERA, a 1.78 WHIP and a .306 BAA in his three starts and two relief outings. He also took the loss in the exhibition game against the Dominican Republic, allowing six runs over 2.1 innings, which isn’t included in his spring stats. Glasnow made his Major League debut last year with the Pirates and made four starts and three relief appearances, posting a 4.24 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP, with 24 strikeouts in 23.1 innings.

LeBlanc and Williams will be the long-men in the bullpen. Williams made his Major League debut last year and had a 7.82 ERA in 12.2 innings over seven appearances. He was a starter in the minors, but the Pirates used him six times out of the bullpen, so he does have minimal experience in that role. He had a very strong spring, posting a 2.04 ERA, with an 0.91 WHIP, a .222 BAA and 18 strikeouts in 17.2 innings.

LeBlanc had a solid spring, topped off by a shutout inning on Friday night. He had a 3.60 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 15 innings. The Pirates got a look at LeBlanc late last year after acquiring him from the Seattle Mariners. He allowed just one earned run over 12 innings, which was enough for the Pirates to keep him around during the off-season and sign him to a one-year deal, with an option for 2018.

UPDATE: The Yankees have taken back Tyler Webb and assigned him to Triple-A. The Pirates will receive back half of their $100,000 cost to select Webb in the Rule 5 draft.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Always wish Charlie well. I did like Webb he had some great qualities and was pretty good and you could argue for him over Bastardo… we may have better options in minors though.


fwiw, Charlie Morton had an excellent ST for ‘Stros. And regardless how well Liriano looked in ST with Jays, JA Happ was still better. I’m never forgiving NH for that one.


Every gm misses. How about focusing on the hundreds of wins he’s had?


695-761, .477

Thomas H

Exactly. I’ll never understand the unconditional love NH gets from some of the posters on this site.


I was hoping for Williams in the rotation. Wanted TG in Indy where he could work on the change and curve, and get confidence in commanding the fb, longer than 2 innings. It is a bold move, I’m just not sure it’s the right one right now. Williams is just more consistent than Glasnow now.

Corey Freeman

Glasnow has nothing left to prove in the minors, Ray Searage should be able to help him more than the Indy coaches.


First time in a long time I have been pleasantly surprised about Pirates final roster. Now let’s see what they do with Osuna.


I was hoping wed keep webb…..maybe they’ll work out a trade.

David Rosenberg

This all makes sense. Glasnow has nothing to prove in AAA. He has to learn and take bumps and bruises as #5 , but ultimately has potential to be #1 . Williams can do what Hughes did, get grounders, plus he can go multiple innings. They needed a righty more than Webb. If you think about it Webb wasn’t good enough for the Yankees to protect and he doesn’t have any plus offerings. The Pirates would rather have veterans in the bottom spots in the pen than a 27 year old who is unproven, unheralded and has no plus pitches. Makes sense if you want to win.

Bottom line: Glasnow and Kuhl, look way better than Locke and Morton or whoever is Scrapheap du Jour. Odds are by the end of the year the bullpen will look a lot different with guys from AAA getting a shot. It was time to start converting some of the starting talent to bullpen help. That’s what they did with Watson and Hughes six years ago.

Joe Nastasi

I don’t understand the uproar over Webb, he had a good spring. He’s not young & we have a few BP guys in AAA that was going to push him out the door anyway.


Great story, rule 5 pick makes the pen of a good team. Looked would not just be stashed away, but a real contributor. I believe if someone would have taken Bastardo salary, he’d be gone and Webb would be there. That is why Webb lasted until this weekend.
Good news, when Bastardo comes in and throws a scoreless 7th, I have time to walk the dog, cook a burger and grab a cool drink.

Joe Nastasi

Or you could go when Jhay comes up to bat. By the time he does his batting gloves & taps his toes the popcorn could be done also

Alan Saunders

I heard that he’s worked on speeding things up this spring. I guess we’ll see if that sticks.

eric i

And one is Hudson! Games might get real slow once the starter is out.


Oh good, I was right. I don’t feel (as) silly for calling myself NostraDarkstone the other day.


Well can’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong. I had Williams winning the job, and Glasnow desperately in need of another 3 or 4 months in AAA.

Hope I get to eat these words as well, but I have a strong suspicion many of you will be hating Glasnow by June. He’s going to trash our bullpen with a succession of 3-5 inning starts while he tries to figure stuff out. I don’t yet believe in this kids head or heart. Going to be quite the test of Old Man Searage.

I am disappointed in our management…


Who really cares what YOU think about it ? Unless you are close to the situation, you don’t have a clue. Take a seat over in the corner with that other self proclaimed baseball genius, BFSMD


Who really cares what you think Leo? BFSM? Really? That’s stings a little.

Bill Harvey

That’s a bit harsh. Sounds like the arguments I had with myself on this site a few months back.

john fluharty

Leo, the whole point of posting here is to share what we think and the whole point of reading comments is to learn what others think.

John W

Leo could be 18 years old for all I know but I can’t help but picture a miserable old bag of bones. LOL, as I’ve said before- I don’t hold his stupidity against him but it’s beyond time he works on his manners.

Ben E

Trade Bastardo (and eat half his salary) to the Yanks for Webb.


Why would the Yankees want Bastardo?


You’re right. They wouldn’t


So, why did the Pirates keep him? One reason – money. That usually trumps all other reasons with the Pirates decision-making…so, no this isn’t the best possible staff of 12 pitchers that Pirates could have gone with.


Is that why Hutch is in AAA and Hughes is gone? You have to be the biggest cry baby around in regards to the Pirates…All you do is cry over every single move they make. They put Glasnow in the rotation, yet here you are, crying over who got the last spot in the pen…


BFSIMD is a troll. Ignore it is the best choice


Oh the class envy oozes from your comments

michael schalke

Another of a long list of your dumb ass comments.


I think this are best 12 pitchers, happy to see that. So I guess the 6, 7th starters are gonna be Brault and Hutchinson. I can’t think right now who is gonna fill out the AAA and AA rotation.

Bill Harvey

Kingham when healthy.


Agree with the decision and ready for the TG era, but it makes me wonder a bit why they said that TW was competing for #5 . SSS of course, but he had the better spring by a very wide margin. Excited about the rotation, need to get Kang back.

Scott H

Disappointed about losing Webb. Other than Rivero, he is the lefty who I wanted to see in the pen on Opening Day more than anyone else, and he could have easily stayed in the organization by starting Glasnow in AAA. Williams clearly proved he deserves to be in the rotation over the higher regarded prospect.


Tyler Webb seemed to be the best LHRP the Pirates had in ST aside from Felipe Rivero. I wonder what the difference is between he and LeBlanc? He is 6 years younger, could have been a long term RP for the Pirates with 3 Options remaining, and pitched very well for the Pirates in ST.

Of course, after only 12 IP by LeBlanc for the Pirates in 2016, NH had already signed him for 2017, along with a $1.2 mil Option for 2018. That leads me to wonder why go Rule 5 if you really were not going to use ST as the period of evaluation?

The season will not turn on the efficiency of our No. 7 RP, but NH took the easy way out of this one.



Blaine Huff

As for why go Rule 5?

I think Webb was given a legitimate shot, but his making the team was always going by to require a couple of things going his way.

Obviously, one is that he would have to perform…and he held up his end of the bargain.

He other was there would have to be roster space. He missed the team by one slot. And this was without Watson or Bastardo being traded and without a ST injury.

He’s an easy guy to pull for, and I was hoping he’d make the team…he just missed, but I think the process was as fair as it could be considering the economics of baseball.

Hopefully the Bucs can swing a deal for him and stash him away at AAA until he’s needed.


Sending Hutchinson down, releasing Hughes, offering a promising Webb back to the Yanks, naming Glasnow as a starter on the Big-league team and, yes, even keeping Bastardo are all bold moves that aim at providing the best chance to win now. This roster is not built on saving face or saving money or playing it safe or playing for tomorrow. This is a high beta-factor team that is built on calculated hope to win a championship. This is the Pirate equivalent of going “all-in”.

Thomas H

These moves are “bold?” This is “all in?” Are you serious??? You’re excited that they’re playing a rookie before he’s ready rather than going out and getting a better pitcher. What’s “bold” about that?

Look at the off-season as a whole. Basically they kept the core of a sub .500 team together lost some important bench players and their only home run threat and added Hudson. What’s “bold” about that?

Only in Pittsburgh is the bar set so low. They are a team that will end the year around .500 and rate 24-27 in payroll. They aren’t “all in” on anything.

IC Bob

Lets not get to excited about the bold moves. Glasnows clock started ticking last year to send him to the minors now becomes a waste of service time and money not a saving money. Hutchinson gave management no choice. Getting rid of Hughes saves the team 2 million and that was well worth it since he seems to have lost something. What would have been bold move is waiving the white flag and waiving Bastardo and his 6 million dollar contract. Now they can continue to try to trade him to anyone in need of a lefty with a little extra cash. I am glad the Bucs kept up Glasnow but I would not call anything they did truly this spring or off season bold outside of moving Cutch to right field.


EXCEPT- that you don’t go with Watson as your closer if that’s what you are trying to do. And….without Kang, that hope is already out the window.

michael t

Concise, well-written and I couldn’t agree more.
The other decision I would add (and applaud) is the decision to give Kang the opportunity to get straight and perform to his abilities rather than cut him loose. If he performs the Pirates are a significantly better team. Assuming he addresses his personal issues they will deserve credit for providing support there as well.

Matthew Kruth

Would have liked to see Webb stick, but the Glasnow move was the right one IMO.


Glasnow named as #5 starter….I’m pleasantly surprised. Thank you NH for making the bold and right decision.

Keeping Bastardo and offering Webb back to the Yankees? You have got to be kidding me….that was one stupid decision.

Bill Harvey

If you believe Bastardo and Webb offer the same thing, it makes sense to keep Bastardo.

Not saying I believe they do, but if NH does, then that is the decision.


They both offer the role of LH reliever – that is where the similarity ends. Bastardo has a lengthy track record of being a maddeningly inconsistent pitcher, he gets lots of Ks but also has frequent control issues and a propensity for giving up HRs. Not surprisingly, he’s been with multiple teams in a very short period of time.

Webb is largely unknown, who has been very impressive this Spring. Obviously, this was NH’s choice – and I believe was another poor choice of his. I am sure economics played the biggest part, since I believe Bastardo is under contract.

IC Bob

What part of Webbs spring was impressive? The over 8 ERA or the over 2 whip? Kid had a chance and really didn’t show much outside of one outing. Either way we are going to get a lousy lefty in the BP. At least with bastinko, he does have a history all be it years ago of being decent.


Bastardo generally has pitched well for us, don’t forget.


But memories of his fastballs hitting the dirt in front of the plate is just…unsettling

Bill Harvey

Probably was an economic decision, because there just aren’t many decisions at all that don’t come down to economics. But in reality, either one would be the last guy up in the bullpen.


Webb is an OK pitcher, one who turns 27 in a few months, but not any real prospect. Last year among the many AAA RP’s who were better than him were Curtis Partch, Guido Knudson, Kelvin Marte, and Curtis Rondon. It was less than 50-50 that he would outpitch Bastardo.


Bastardo is terrible….Webb outpitched him

Scott Kliesen

Happy for TG, kinda bummed about losing Webb.


Don”t understand the move. Why pick him if what he has shown isn’t enough to justify keeping him?

Alan Saunders

This is a required step if they do want to trade for him. Not necessarily the end of the road.


With what he has shown it would be a surprise if the Yankees don’t buy him back. It’s not like they need the money.

Adam Y

This guy? “Webb posted an 8.44 ERA, 1.69 WHIP and 1/2 K/BB ratio over 5 1/3 innings in Grapefruit League play.”

Alan Saunders

It’s not much, either. $25k. I’m sure the Steinbrenners have that in the cushions of their sofa.


Yes but Hank is tighter than two coats of paint.


World Series here we come! You gotta believe!

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