Mr. Glass

Being a big comic book and superhero fan I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Glass when it comes to Tyler Glasnow (besides the obvious pun). For those who don’t know, Mr. Glass is a character played by the prominent actor Samuel Jackson in the hit movie Unbreakable. The character’s name derives from a rare condition that brittles his body leaving him able to break every bone in by just falling over. While Tyler Glasnow is injury prone, this correlation more so derives from the make up of his skill set, one that might be more fragile than we think. 

When the 2020 season approached Glasnow was a major talking point in terms of evaluation. Pitching just 60.2 dominant innings left it hard for us to judge who he truly is. Some were skeptical while others were excited. For those who bought in, Santa Glasnow decided to leave you with coal instead of a present. In this beautiful, short, chaotic season he finished with 57.1 innings pitched and a 4.08 ERA. So what happened? What happened to our precious little Glasnow who was supposed to take the next step and become a top 15 maybe even top 10 pitcher?

Let’s talk about his four-seam fastball because it seems like a solid starting point. Last season he threw it over 60% of the time and as always chucked with high velocity. What was different was the level of performance. 

Tyler Glasnow’s Fastball
Year wOBAcon EV LA ISO wRC+
2019 0.283 88.4 15.8 0.133 73
2020 0.395 92.4 18.4 0.214 130

Yea, not good. The main cause behind his fastball taking a step back was his command. In 2019 he left his fastball over the heart of the plate 30.4%, in 2020 that number rose to 35.8%. That is the 10th highest percentage in the league amongst starters. His overall count of 209 fastballs over the heart of the plate was second highest in the league. This is crucial because when Glasnow throws his fastball in that location it just flat out doesn’t perform well. 

Continuing to zone in on that part of the plate Glasnow’s strikeout rate with his fastball was just 15.0%. To compare, Shane Bieber’s fastball had a 34.1 K% and Brandon Woodruff’s had a 34.9 K%. Well, what about SwStr%? Glasnow’s was around 5% meanwhile the “Elite” crowd was around 8% to 7%. 

Now if you really want me to spell this out to you and run you over with what I like to call the obvious bus. When a pitcher leaves their fastball over the heart of the plate it results in what? Home runs. He allowed seven home runs when throwing his fastball down the middle which was tied for second-most in the league. Thus manufacturing his massive spike in the HR/FB category. 

MLB hitters seem to be catching on to this. In 2019 opposing hitters swung at his fastball 44.2% of the time but in 2020 that number rose to 51.9%. They also swung on Glasnow’s fastball over the heart of the plate 26.7% of the time which was the highest percentage from any starter in 2020. Not only does he have bad command with his fastball but overall Glasnow had a Command+ of 87 last season, slightly better than the very well known erratic Josh James

Most of us know Glasnow’s main strength is his curveball. It has been a lethal pitch for years now averaging a 17.5% SwStr%. In 2020 it was so good that it had the highest strikeout rate out of any pitch in baseball at 66.7%. If we all know this, certainly all of baseball knows this. While it is easier said than done why don’t hitters just lay off this pitch? Well, they actually are.

Glasnow’s clear plan coming into last season was to throw his curveball out of the zone more to create more swinging strikes. It makes complete sense and his zone rate on this pitch went from 40.0% to 33.1%. But Houston we have a problem. Besides me just using a bad dad joke Glasnow’s O-Swing% on his curveball dipped from 33.3% to 30.4%. It’s because just like us, baseball knows his curveball is by far his best pitch and his opponent’s swing rate on it dipped from 43.2% in 2019 to 37.9% in 2020. If you want to relate that percentage to another great curveball in the game, Charlie Morton’s curveball had a 37.4 O-Swing% and 53.7 Swing%.

So what do you get with a two-pitch pitcher who is struggling with command on one pitch and the other pitch opposing hitters aren’t swinging at? A 4.08 ERA. 

Since this article is named Mr. Glass, Glasnow’s injury history should probably be brought up. Fellow Fangraphs writer Jeff Zimmerman released an awesome piece on players and their injury history. He created a chart for both pitchers and hitters. With pitchers, he noted age, arm injuries, total IL days, and IL days in the past two seasons. He then color coded it based on risk like a traffic light, red means bad, yellow means caution, green means safe. Glasnow is high up in the yellow section. At age 26 he has 155 IL days in his career and 120 IL days in the last two seasons alone. Take that and add in that two of his injuries were arm injuries and he becomes a risky pick.

In the current NFBC ADP that as of right now is only based on Draft Champions competitions, Glasnow is the 16th starting pitcher off the board. He is going ahead of pitchers like Max Fried, Zach Plesac, Lance Lynn, and Sonny Gray. My question to you is why?

 





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carter
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carter

Because of upside and K per ip. Glasnow struck out more batters per inning than any starting pitcher in baseball, and he was the best sp in baseball in 2019 on a per inning basis. Neither of those are large sample sizes, but if you combine those two years he deserves a higher spot, not lower. His xfip was 2.75 btw.

The concern with Glasnow is how short of a leash the tampa pitchers get, he might never go 6ip, let alone deeper.

The guys you mentioned close to him have more concerns imo. Fried was better in 2019 and got lucky, basically. Would have to see him do it again to have any reasonable expectation that he can stop striking guys out, start walking more guys, and still post an amazing era. He is a guy I wouldn’t even consider till around 200, let alone where he is going in drafts. Plesac pitched in the central, zero trust on central pitchers at all, unless they repeat the same sort of scheduling. Same story with Gray. While I do like Gray, his adp seems to me like it is banking on a repeat performance. And he wasn’t amazing last year, more good. To me that is concerning when so many other central pitchers dominated. I do like Lynn. Lynn got a bit unlucky late in the year, and his home isn’t known. That is a concern with him. I could see him being traded somewhere like the Yankees and facing better competition and having a worse home park.

Glasnow could very easily be one of the best pitchers in baseball. The only issue I see with him is his team not letting him go deep.

weekendatbidens
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weekendatbidens

“Glasnow could very easily be one of the best pitchers in baseball. The only issue I see with him is his team not letting him go deep.”

This would be true if he had a modicum of efficiency. The guy just doesn’t get quick outs. If he can’t get quick outs, how do you expect the Rays to keep him in the third time around the horn? That’s why they pull him. It’s the same issue with Snell but more severe. So I would say you have the cart in front of the horse, right now.

If Glasnow had efficiency, he would be the best pitcher… but so would Eavoldi.

dodgerbleu
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dodgerbleu

Think I’m agreeing with the Kenmore Kings. They did let Glasnow pitch deep. Over his last 7 starts, he pitched into the 6th in 6 of them, even completed 7 innings twice. The one game he was pulled after 5 was because he was already at 95 pitches. He was the only guy they let loose, and he generally was brought out because of pitch count.

Not that the end result is different, but they aren’t a slave to the 3rd time through the order rule with him like they were with Snell or Morton (though Snell too had pc issues).

NBiscardi17
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NBiscardi17

He has two pitches and really poor command, he’ll be a closer within 3 years, damn good one but he won’t be a starter.