Pirates Notebook: Glasnow Makes His Case for Fifth Spot; Updates on Polanco, Taillon and Stewart

BRADENTON, Fla. — Tyler Glasnow was the latest of the Pirates’ fifth starter candidates to throw his hat into the ring with a start against the Detroit Tigers at LECOM Park Saturday afternoon.

Glasnow produced something of a mixed bag in his four innings of work that totaled 82 pitches. He struck out nine in what was a fairly weak Tigers lineup for this time of spring.

In the third inning, he ran into trouble, when Phil Gosselin couldn’t handle a hard-hit Brendan Ryan grounder at third base. With a man on second, Adam Frazier couldn’t get to Andrew Romine’s ground single up the middle, then Tyler Collins sent a fastball over the 375-foot left-center wall.

It was a case of the stuff not matching the outcomes for Glasnow, as his curveball was playing well with devastating break and pinpoint location. His changeup, though still not used as often, also looked good. His fastball was sitting between 95 and 97 on the stadium gun. But the combination of the long ball and the pitch count left Glasnow desiring more.

“The big thing today was the pitch efficiency and I kind of ran up the pitches today, but I’m kind of happy with some ground balls. I just have to go back out and be more efficient next time.”

To get nine strikeouts does take some pitches, and Glasnow said that’s a trade-off he’s willing to make, but maybe not to the extreme he did against the Tigers.

“I think today, it was a good amount of strikes and not a lot of walks,” he said. “I just think there were a lot of foul balls and swings and misses. I’m not really out there trying to do that by any means. I was spinning the ball well today and there was some deception. Towards the fourth inning was the best I felt. The curveball started to take shape. The changeup and fastball were coming along. It was a good sign.”

Hurdle pointed out that Glasnow was more efficient in Triple-A last season, so the key is getting that previous success to transfer to a higher level.

“He’s developing on the pitch efficiency,” he said. “He’s had it in the minor leagues. It’s about throwing strikes and challenging hitters. Pitch efficiency is going to provide him an avenue to pitch longer in games, which is very important to the team, so you can’t lose sight of that.”

Glasnow feels that he’s really made strides as a pitcher this spring, focusing on becoming a pitcher rather than a thrower and taking lessons from the coaching staff and applying them to on-field situations.

“This is the most I’ve learned in any baseball setting,” he said. “It’s been like a month, taking in so much information. There’s so many guys here that have so much to teach you. Honestly, I’m just super excited I can stay [in camp] this long. It’s been an awesome experience.”

Glasnow, of course, still does not know the outcome of the fifth starter competition that he’s in with Steven Brault, Drew Hutchison and Trevor Williams. But he feels good about the performances that he’s put out there.

“The last two starts are the best I’ve felt,” he said. “There were some rough ones in the beginning, but that’s past me now. It’s more competition mode now and these last two have really felt like game starts.”

Steven Brault also pitched on Saturday, going four innings and giving up one run and four hits and three strikeouts. Brault didn’t get to face any of the Tigers’ regulars because he came in later in the game.

MEADOWS MASHING

Austin Meadows hit his second home run of the spring, a long shot to right-center field off Tigers’ reliever Kyle Ryan. Meadows is not going to make the team. His time in spring training is about getting comfortable with the Major League team and coaching staff and feeling comfortable against Major League pitching.

POLANCO SCRATCHED

Left fielder Gregory Polanco was a late scratch from the team’s lineup Saturday. The team announced that he is suffering from left shoulder discomfort and listed as day-to-day. He did not play Friday after going 1-for-4 with a double and playing six innings in the field Thursday against Boston in Fort Myers.

Polanco said that he hurt his shoulder on a throw against the Red Sox and called his scratch “precautionary.” He added that he’s working on being ready for Opening Day. Jose Osuna replaced him in the lineup and in left field.

Saturday was supposed to be just the second time all spring the Pirates played their three starting outfielders together. Hurdle said Friday that he was excited to get them back in the lineup after all three missed Spring Training time at the World Baseball Classic.

“I don’t have any concerns about [them missing time],” he said. “There are some nuances that they’ll be able to work on, but it was out of our hands. So, there’s nothing we could do about it, there was no reason to stress over it and now, we’ll get them back together as often as we can and go from there.”

STEWART ‘FEELING BETTER’

Catcher Chris Stewart (left groin) is not in the lineup, but says he is “feeling better” after being removed from Friday’s game in the eighth inning. He had an MRI performed and was diagnosed with a slight strain, which he called “positive news.” He has not attempted to crouch or run since the injury.

“I was just running down to first base,” he said. “I didn’t make any strange moves or anything. It was just standard running form and I just felt it grab. It was a little weird, but it’s not as bad as we initially thought. We’re definitely optimistic about Opening Day.”

TAILLON TO PIRATE CITY

Josh Lindblom will start for the Pirates against the Phillies in Clearwater on Sunday, followed by Wade LeBlanc, A.J. Schugel and Jared Hughes. That means that Jameson Taillon will take his turn in Pirate City instead as he attempts to get stretched out to 100 pitches.

It’s the same path that Gerrit Cole and Ivan Nova have taken recently, and there’s clearly a trend of the Pirates sending their more established starters over to get their work done while keeping a more watchful eye on those still being evaluated at LECOM Park.

“It’s nice that they trust us to go over there and get the work in,” he said. “I think it says a lot that the coaches trust us to go over to the back fields and not just treat it as a joke. We’re going to go over there, be professionals and get our work in. It feels good to be in that company.”

  • Watched Glasnow’s start and did not see any changeups. Does anyone know how many he threw and what speed they were coming in at ?

  • They should give Glasnow a start in one of the final tune-up games in Quebec to evaluate how he handles the big league atmosphere. If his pants stay dry and he performs well then award him the 5th spot based upon talent, merit and potential.

    • Not to mention the opportunity to face one of the toughest lineups in the AL. I think your idea has merit.

      • Has anybody heard of John Smoltz, HOF RHP who was a SP, a reliever, a Closer, and then back to a SP again. Glasnow could probably benefit from some tight situations out of the BP, and possibly the same from 1 or 2 others.

        Has Oakland inquired about Hutchison and Hanson yet? Of the 2016 Top 50 International Prospects, Oakland signed the #13, SS Marcos Brito ($1.1 mil), #24, SS Yerdel Vargas ($1.5 mil), and # 39, OF Kevin Richards ($600K). Also OF, Lazero Armenteris, from Cuba for $3 mil,

  • Because I think Alen Hanson has high value, I tend to notice the absences of use. CH seemed to not even know he was on the extended roster last Sep, and he has also lost track of him this week. It goes like this –

    3/19 Leadoff batter, LF, 3-6, run scored, 2 doubles, SB, 2 OF Assists
    3/20 Hanson DNP
    3/21 Late inning sub in LF, 0-2
    3/22 Off Day
    3/23 Hanson bats 8th, starts at 2B, 1-3, BB, SB
    3/24 Late inning sub RF, 1 PA – BB, SB, and OF Assist
    3/25 Late inning sub 2B, 0-1

    This week, Gosselin has started 4 games at LF/1B, 1B, 2B/3B, and 3B/1B.
    Hanson’s ST slash .366/.400/.488/.888 OPS with 3 BB/5 K, 3 SB, 3 OF Assists.
    Gosselin’s ST slash .340/.327/.491/.818 OPS with 0 BB/9 K, 1 SB

    IMO, the team needs Hanson’s switchhitting eye at the plate, his footspeed at the top or bottom of the order, and his defense all over the field. However, it seems that CH has found his security blanket for 2017. It has to be extremely frustrating to Hanson who has done everything expected of him.

    • I heard recently Pirates are interested in trading him and Hughes. Hughes is an obvious problem, but Hanson seems to be a better fit for roster than Gosselin. Something just doesn’t add up.

      • Veteranosity

      • can we just fire Hurdle?

      • Thank you all for the comments. When I wrote this I thought maybe I was the only one who saw this. Hanson was a late inning replacement again yesterday replacing the starter at 2B, Gift Ngoepe. At 27, Ngoepe may clear waivers; Hanson, 24, will be picked up by somebody and maybe traded back to us in 4 years.

        A trade is probably the answer. The Pirates have locked themselves in with Josh Harrison who they are unable to trade, and we have also traded a 4th round draft pick for Bostick and a proven AAA+ pitcher in Frank Duncan to get Gosselin.

        Has anybody heard anything from our Manager-in-Waiting, Joey Cora?

  • Mr. Stewart, that my good man is called getting old. I wake up, and stretch, and still feel little twinges throughout the day. Muscles(like I have any) just start to lose elastisity over time.

    • This is stews last year…….I bet he spends half of it on the DL, which is okay….that’s why we have Diaz.

  • I’m encouraged by TG’s development this Spring. Even if he is sent down to start season, I’m optimistic it won’t be for long.

    More importantly, it looks more and more likely he will be a dangerous weapon for Pirates for many years to come.

  • Glasnow had several close pitches not get called today. Also, Frazier had minimal range on the grounder he missed. I think Glasnow looked exceptional. If he gets those close calls and the ground balls get picked he makes it through 5 with 80 pitches instead of 4.

    Really starting to love Meadows. Seems like a good kid and boy can he hit.

    • Agreed on Glasnow’s outing. He was sharp. The home run would have been an out in PNC, too, and it was one of very few balls hit hard off of him. He was around the zone all game and rarely in the middle of it, the fastball was live, the curve had bite. He looked really good.

    • Agree, Glasnow looked good today. He got the fastball up in the zone on the HR, but otherwise looked strong.

    • I could care less about pitch efficiency for a rookie. Give me 5 innings and hold the opponent to 2 earned runs and keep the walks under 1/2 an inning and i’m happy with that from a #5 starter. Everything else will come in time.

  • How about the Bucs simply play matchups. Everybody in competition for the 5th slot has at least one option left. Instead of naming a 5th starter, simply look at the upcoming schedule and determine, based on who Bucs are playing, who stands the best chance of getting through 5-6 innings.

    It’s hard to find anything that suggests Hutch, Williams or Brault would be any better than Glasnow, but I really wasn’t impressed at all with either Brault or Williams last year. I think they’ll be journeymen spot starters for the rest of their limited careers. If they even have limited MLB careers.

    One would also have to really look under rocks to find anything they could parse into good news regarding Hutchison. But I do think he has two things going for him, at least for the 1st half of 2017: 1) he’s an experienced guy the NL doesn’t really know well yet, and 2) his record with more than 4 days rest is significantly better than his record with standard 4 days rest. The first point is all hope, the second is esoterica. But I have zero faith in Williams or Brault – hell, I don’t think much of Kuhl. Might as well take a shot with Hutch.

    Really hoping Kingham comes back strong for late season.

    • In order to do that, you’d have to keep them all stretched out, which is impossible. You could send them all down, but then they wouldn’t all be ready to pitch on the day they’d be needed. I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work.

  • domdidominic
    March 25, 2017 6:56 pm

    5th should go to Glasnow. Really, nothing for him to ‘improve’ on at Indy. Efficiency, pick offs and consistency is what he needs the work in, no better place to accomplish those goals than with the big league staff, going every 5 days.
    Would be great to have Brault as the long guy in the pen over Lindblom. Lindblom along with Hutchinson, Williams and Kingham are strong alternatives in AAA when needed. Hope that Brault out of the pen today was a sign of things to come, especially with Hughes going in the 5th today. Imagine with him going today and tomorrow is more to showcase him for a deal.

    • If it was me I would break the schedule down to see what game they need a regular 5th starter. Then set Glasnow up in Indy to fall on that day. Instruct him that he goes to Indy, pound the zone, hold runners & work heavily on change-up. If he gets it done that game is his.

      • I think they only need a 5th starter twice in the first month or so.

        • So you call him up to pitch those games, then option him back right after. Keeps his service time down and keeps him on a regular 5 day schedule.

    • Id like to eventually see Brault pitching out of the pen but not until after any 2 of Bastardo, LeBlanc and Watson are wearing a different uniform. Too many lefties in the pen already even if Webb gets returned to New York. Wouldnt ming seeing Trevor Williams start the season in the pen as a swingman or as Hughes insurance than after Watson and/or Bastardo are traded put Brault in the bullpen and let his fastball play up a bit in shorter outings.

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