Williams: How Many Chances Does Tyler Glasnow Have Left With the Pirates?

PITTSBURGH – Tyler Glasnow has yet to make the successful jump to the big leagues. After struggling at the beginning of the 2017 season in the majors, Glasnow was sent down to Triple-A. He put up his usual strong numbers at the level, only this time the results came with better stuff and command. That led to an eventual promotion back to the big leagues.

So far, it has been more of the same. Glasnow has combined to pitch four innings since he has been up, giving up five runs on four hits and ten walks — yes, ten walks — with four strikeouts. Glasnow probably needs more innings in the big leagues, although the current lack of innings is on him, as he was expected to pitch much longer in both of his appearances. The Pirates are still giving him a shot while he’s up, as Neal Huntington said to reporters on Sunday, including our Alan Saunders.

“We’ll continue to give him opportunities to show the advancements and developments that he’s made and recognize we’re at [four] innings at the major-league level since dominating Triple-A baseball again, but in the right way,” Huntington said. “That’s the next step we’ll take with him, continuing to get him to trust his stuff. We trust that he has the ability to play at this level and we’re going to continue to push him forward.”

That’s going to be a challenge though. There is one more week left in the 2017 season. Huntington said that Glasnow will get another appearance, as will Steven Brault. However, both of those appearances might be out of the bullpen. That’s not going to give Glasnow much of an opportunity to adjust to the majors.

The problem the Pirates have with Glasnow is that they are eventually going to have to roll the dice with Glasnow in some way. They’re either going to need to do what they did this year and give him a shot out of Spring Training as a starter, or take a more conservative approach and give him a shot in the bullpen. Either approach becomes an issue if the Pirates want to contend next year, as it puts a huge risk in their pitching staff.

They could send him down to the minors again, but at this point that wouldn’t really help. He doesn’t have anything left to prove in the minors, and at this point the only thing he needs to do is make the jump to the majors.

Complicating matters even more is the fact that the Pirates do have other options. Trevor Williams won out over Glasnow at mid-season when the Pirates had to make a decision between the two players. Steven Brault seems to be ahead of Glasnow in terms of September playing time. Williams and Brault have lower upsides, but are capable of providing better results right now in the big leagues.

The Pirates also have Nick Kingham and Clay Holmes as options at the top level, and Mitch Keller should arrive in Triple-A next year, with a shot at arriving in the majors in the second half of 2018. Glasnow might not have many opportunities left with the Pirates, since there will be so many other young starters looking for a shot in the majors, with most of them likely to perform better than Glasnow’s current 8.02 ERA/5.49 xFIP in the majors.

Glasnow is still young, only turning 24 years old a month ago. So it’s not quite time to write him off as a major leaguer just yet. But if the Pirates wish to contend next year and going forward, then it will be difficult to give him opportunities to adjust to the majors, especially with no guarantees that the adjustment will happen, and several other young pitchers at the top levels who could perform better than he is currently performing. While he has plenty of opportunities going forward in the majors, he might not have as many chances with the Pirates.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Steve Zielinski

If the Pirates eff up this one….

Arik Florimonte

Two words: Stolmy Pimentel

Translation: of course they can hide him on the roster.

Thomas H

Because that worked out so well.

Arik Florimonte

Well, they made the playoffs both years.


Except Stolmy seldom pitched. With Tyler you would like to see him pitch at least once a week for three or more innings at a time. Since the Bucs will be losing almost three games per week that shouldn’t be hard to do.


The clock most definitely is ticking on Glasnow’s career here. That’s what makes the FO’s decisions late in the season so confounding. NH/CH should have put him in the rotation Sept 1 and let him go for better or worse. we are no closer to knowing what we have in Glasnow than we did at the start of the season.


All of these opinions, and none of them mine……..let’s fix that. Honestly, who cares? He has been unrealistically bad every chance he has received at the major league level, anyone want to guess why? Because he walks too many batters, that is why. The minors are full of guys at every level that are trying to hack their way to the majors, so the fact that he averages over 4BB/9IP as a minor league pitcher should tell you all you need to know about his chances at the major league level. Don’t get me wrong, I want him to pitch great for the Pirates, but I don’t believe he has the ability to.

dr dng

I did not realize he was still only 24.

For next year, make him a rule 5 player
without him being a rule 5 player.


I have no problem with him starting 2018 in the minors if there are 5 better starters. The idea that he has nothing to learn is silly when you consider his size and lack of ability to repeat his mechanics. He’s just recently converted to exclusively pitching out of the stretch, and he seems to be tinkering with some different pitches. Time in the minors won’t hurt him at all.

Robert J

8th inning man! Come in, throw 101 from the right side, with Nightmare throwing the 9th at 101 from the left side!

(Preceded by Chad Kuhl throwing 101 in the 7th?)

Michael M

Carlos Martinez took a year in the bullpen after not being a great starter for the Cards. He bounced back as a top notch starter. I think that is a good route for Glasnow too.


If they really truly believe he’s a potential home run prospect, a team dedicated to winning would start him, even it it were painful for a while. That’s the best chance of realizing his potential sooner and keeping it for max time until they lose him to free agency. The starting 5 we have now are league average with not a lot of ceiling to realize. Let’s aspire to better than league average. They won’t do much this off season to make themselves an actual contender in 2018 so nothing really lost giving him the ball every 5 days.


Four of the five are still improving.


I like them all, don’t get me wrong. But if you think you’ve got a stud, you gotta let him pitch. Nibbling around the edges hasn’t done this organization much good. He either figures it out or doesn’t. Either way, the sooner we get there, the better for the organization.


Both Cole and Jameson Taillon have potential to be better than league average and Kuhl’s ceiling is also not yet defined.


Slot him in for long relief in 2018, and only pitch him in low leverage situations. Do this for a few years if necessary.

Mike G

Make him the closer!!


Closers need to have ice in their veins. That doesn’t describe Tyler right now.

Mike G

If you’re going to tank, do it right.

joe s

why the hell are they making him relieve, something he has not done previously. At this point I want the Bucs to lose all their remaining games to get a better draft choice, so maybe they should start Glasnow in all of them, or at least the next time he pitches. Coming out of the pen is not going to help him.

Blaine Huff

Most of his starts were mop-up relief jobs that happened to begin in the first inning…

But, seriously, his confidence appears to be shot…no need to run him out there for an indefinite period. Give him some grounding…tell him his pitching the 7th inning and only the 7th inning of a game and run him out there for it. Let him have a little success and build on in.

Sadly, this is confidence boost is what the team should have been doing for the last two weeks…instead, he’s riding the bench.

Tom S

I think he is fragile now, and they have to be careful. He is to athletic to not put it together and have a good career.


The answer to your question is 1.5 years at a minimum. He has an option year next year. And at the least would be allowed to work out of the bullpen for a half a year after that. You just don’t give up on a guy with his talent.

It would be interesting to know what the Pirates would take in trade value. That would tell us what they truly think of his long-term potential.


Stick him in the pen like the Cards did with guys like Wainwright and Martinez. They seem to do a really good job of starting guys they intend to start in the bullpen first with them transitioning into the rotation the following year.


Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax… TG deserves more chances, especially with this team.

Tom S

Nolan Ryan had early problems.

Carl K

Bring a veteran like A.J. Bernett back and have him talk to the young guys about pitching. Looked what it did for Cole a few years back. Coaching is invaluable

dr dng

I have believed this for some time.
I believe AJ brings a lot of things
the Pirates need in the dugout and
in the Locke room.

Tom S

Burnett had problens early in career.


Stolmy Pimentel, Radhames Liz, Cory Leubke…a scholarship spot in the bullpen is nothing new, and the Pirates certainly won’t have too many worthy options unless there’s an acquisition binge this winter.

Keep it simple in games, and work on scrapping the 4-seamer in lieu of a 2-seam / cutter combo during bullpen work. Reevaluate at the break.


Just curious – do you think he should ditch the curve altogether or only while working out of the bullpen in the scenario you described?


Definitely wouldn’t have him give up the curve, I just don’t think the fastball is very effective. Without a pitch to slot between those two velocity bands, it seems like his curveball effectiveness is diminished.

He tends to naturally get around the ball so a cutter could be easy to pick up, if not a true slider.

Tom S

Stuff is major league, consistent control is problem!


This is about mitigating deficiencies.

Of course his command is the problem, but a guy can walk and chew gum at the same time. Expanding your pitch selection and repeating your mechanics aren’t mutually exclusive.

It really seems like folks are sticking to the subjective scouting reports instead of looking at the objective, measurable reality of his fastball. It’s just not very good.


I think he’d benefit from copying from a Jake Arrieta adjustment and move to the right side of the rubber, at least against right hand batters. As you have pointed out he doesn’t take advantage of his length with regards to his release point being close to the ground due to his 3/4 delivery. But move to the right side of the rubber and his release would be from behind the head of a right hand batter. Tough to pick up!

La Pirate

ok he has struggled with his command but his stuff shows. I think its really a mental issue right now and he will figure it out. I hope he gets a good final outing before the season.


I hope that you are right. I agree with you regarding the mental issue, and that is also what greatly concerns me. We have seen this before with other players and it seems like most of the time, they never overcome the problem.

John W

The real shame is the Pirates could have brought back something of significant value for Glasnow in 2014 when we made no deadline additions and ended up not doing anything to help ourselves take a very weak division.

Stephen Brooks

He was rumored to be part of the David Price package in 2014, along with Josh Bell. The Rays rejected it in favor of Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin.

Robert J

I disagree. It’s always been said he needed that third pitch, which he didn’t have back then, which he really didn’t develop until this year.

That would have been a hell of a risk for another team to take on, so his value at the time probably wouldn’t have been as high as his upside.


That is all hindsight, John. In 2014, Glasnow was being billed as the next, some combination of Walter Johnson reincarnated, with a dash of Jim Palmer and a pinch of Tom Seaver.
I still think that the physical talent is there for him to become a very good to great pitcher at the mlb level. What concerns me is if his problems are mental. At this point, I can’t help but draw that conclusion. I hope that it is just a matter of more experience and maturity. Time will tell.


He looks shell shocked and totally lacking in confidence and the results are reflecting the attitude.

John W

Glasnow should get plenty of opportunities.. For one thing, the likelhood of this team contending next year is very low. The team just isn’t that good. The health of the staff has been ridiculously good this year- next year it would be prudent to expect considerably more injuries and possibly a quite significant one to someone on the staff.

Kuhl is pretty meh as a starter. His July/August “success” was largely built on unsustainable home run prevention. September has been ugly as the homers are up. But really his XFIP has been rather unimpressive every month besides June.

Kuhl’s walk percentage is way too high this year.


After this season, he has one option left, correct?


give him a shot to be a badass in spring training. if not a badass, then gotta give him a few rounds in mopup duty. if badass, then rotation.

Jason G

Slot him into long and middle relief next year and play him in low leverage situations more often than not early in the season. He has nothing to prove in AAA but he needs to find his confidence in the majors.




I agree, let him be the long man to start.

Robert W

maybe they could send him to a hypnotist.

Tom S

I’ve said that also.

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