Can Tyler Glasnow Still Make The Pirate Rotation?

Mar 5, 2016; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (51) warms up before the start of the spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2016; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (51) warms up before the start of the spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

Does Tyler Glasnow still have a shot at heading north with the Pirates at the end of the month?

This spring, the Pittsburgh Pirates do not have very many battles going on in camp. However, one battle that is happening is the battle for the fifth and final rotation spot. One question many Pirate fans are asking is can Tyler Glasnow still win this spot?

At the start of Spring Training the battle for the fifth starter’s spot was between Drew Hutchison, Steven Brault, and Tyler Glasnow. Hutchison probably entered the spring as the man to beat. Additionally, prior to Friday, Hutchison had been the best pitcher out of those three this spring.

Make no mistake, the Pirate brass would love for Tyler Glasnow to take the bull by horns here and run with it. There are very few pitchers in all of professional baseball that possess the raw stuff that Glasnow possesses. Due to this his ceiling is sky high.

However, due to control issues, Glasnow has yet to prove he belongs in the Major Leagues. After his first start this spring it looked like Glasnow might be turning a corner. In two innings pitched against the Baltimore Orioles he allowed a broken bat flare single, and struck out the other six batters he faced.

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After this start Glasnow’s control issues would return. In Glasnow’s next two Grapefruit League starts he would allow six runs on nine hits, three walks, and three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings pitched. He also made a start against the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic team in which he was hammered to the tune of six runs, five hits, four walks, and a strikeout in 2 2/3 innings pitched.

Due to Glasnow’s struggles and the success of Drew Hutchison, it appeared any chance Glasnow had of making the Pirate roster out of Spring Training had vanished. However, in the past 48 hours this may have changed. Personally, I hope it has.

On Friday, Drew Hutchison started for the Pirates and struggled immensely with control. Hutchison allowed six runs on seven hits, two walks, a home run, and four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings pitched on Friday. This came after he had allowed just two runs on six hits, three walks, and nine strikeouts through his first nine innings pitched this spring.

Tyler Glasnow then followed this up with his most complete start of the spring. On Saturday Glasnow pitched four innings against the Philadelphia Phillies. In these four innings pitched he allowed one run on four hits, two walks, and five strikeouts.

Other than a second inning single by Daniel Nava, Glasnow did not allow any hard contact in Saturday’s game. Also, the lone run he allowed came on a bloop double that just barely fell single inside the third base line. It was a ball that third baseman Gift Ngoepe misplayed and left fielder Jose Osuna could not get to.

The most encouraging sign from Glasnow was his improved control. This went further than him issuing just two walks. He pounded the strike zone, got ahead in the count (13 of 18 first pitch strikes), and threw a lot of pitcher’s pitches in two strike counts.

So, does Tyler Glasnow still have a shot at making the team out of Spring Training?

Prior to what has unfolded the past 48 hours I would have said no. However, after Hutchison’s start Friday and Glasnow’s Saturday he still has a shot. There was also Rob Biertempfel’s report on Saturday that the Pirates, “wish one of them would step up and grab it (the last rotation spot).”

Well, on Saturday, Tyler Glasnow may have started to do that. Also, to go along with Hutchison’s struggles on Friday, Steven Brault struggled in relief of Glasnow on Saturday. Brault allowed four runs on four hits and two walks in just 2 2/3 innings pitched. This continued what has been a struggling spring for Brault.

Last week, I wrote that Tyler Glasnow needed more time at Triple-A. While this is still true, it may not happen now. Due to the struggles of Drew Hutchison and Steven Brault, combined with Glasnow having a strong outing on Saturday, it is possible that Glasnow is forcing his way back into discussion for the final spot in the Pirate rotation.

If Tyler Glasnow can not throw strikes consistently then he is not a viable rotation option for the Pirates. Rather or not he can do that remains to be seen. However, Saturday’s start was an encouraging one and a step in the right direction. If the Pirate believe he can do this consistently, then he will be in the Opening Day rotation.

Next: Pirates 13, Phillies 8

Both Tyler Glasnow and Drew Hutchison will make two more starts before the start of the regular season. If these starts go well for Glasnow, regardless of what Hutchison does, he very well may end up in the Pirate rotation to start the season.

The Pirates want Glasnow to take the last rotation spot and run with it. If the Pirates believe he can throw enough strikes to be successful, odds are, he will be in the rotation to start the 2017 season.