Pirates' Glasnow goes wild in loss to Reds
Ray Searage stood on the mound and pleaded with Tyler Glasnow.
"Go after these guys," the Pirates pitching coach said.
Downward plane, upper-90s velocity and nasty movement are all part of Glasnow's default mode, which gives him the potential to be an outstanding pitcher. None of that matters, though, unless the right-hander puts the ball in the strike zone.
"Go after them," Searage repeated.
Glasnow nodded and tried to appear calm. But there was a glimmer of something — confusion? doubt? fear? — in the rookie's eyes that suggested that everything was most certainly not going to be all right.
In his season debut Monday against the Cincinnati Reds, Glasnow gave up a leadoff single to Billy Hamilton. The next batter popped out.
Then, Glasnow issued a full-count walk. And another. And another. And another.
Hamilton's single was the only hit in a three-run inning. Glasnow needed 43 pitches, only 22 of them strikes, to get three outs.
Glasnow went back out to start the second inning, but he did not finish it. He left the Pirates with a five-run deficit that wound up being a 7-1 loss.
"This is one you just throw away," said Glasnow, who yielded five runs and five walks in 12⁄3 innings. "I felt good early on. I got a little long (in my delivery) near the end, and things started to fall apart. I've got to forget about this one and move on to the next one."
Control problems are nothing new for Glasnow. Yet the 23-year-old's stuff is good enough for Baseball America to rank him the No. 3 player in the Pirates' farm system. This offseason, MLB Pipeline rated Glasnow the top pitcher prospect in the minors.
In 231⁄3 innings with the Pirates last season, Glasnow issued 13 walks. At Triple-A Indianapolis, he walked 62 batters in 1102⁄3 innings.
"We encourage him to be athletic out there and be aggressive," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Pound the zone to the best of his ability. He doesn't have to be dotting it up. He needs to get (batters) in swing mode, then he can do the things he's shown the ability to do — elevate, sink, spin the ball. But he's got to be in the strike zone."
In the second inning, Glasnow threw more strikes. But the longer delivery sapped his power, and he became much more hittable with his four-seamer at 90-92 mph.
Glasnow was essentially down to two pitches, the four- and two-seam fastballs. He threw his curveball sparingly and mostly in the dirt.
Hamilton singled again. Jose Peraza singled. After a double-steal, Adam Duvall lined a two-run single to left to make it 5-0.
Hurdle went out to the mound to offer a brief pick-me-up. It was a rarity for Hurdle, who usually leaves the dugout only to remove a pitcher.
"We just needed to have a chat," Hurdle said, without elaboration.
"It's just between him and me," Glasnow said.
Ball four to Eugenio Suarez was Glasnow's 64th — and final — pitch of the night.
Reds left-hander Brandon Finnegan also had an awful evening, but the Pirates failed to take advantage. He got six outs, gave up four hits, waked five and struck out four.
The Pirates loaded the bases with none out in the second and failed to score. They put their first four batters on base in the third, but the only run came via a bases-loaded walk to Francisco Cervelli.
Reliever Wade LeBlanc twice batted with the bases loaded. He made the first out in the second inning and the third out in the third.
LeBlanc hadn't gotten more than one at-bat in a season since 2013, when he started seven games for the Miami Marlins.
Why didn't Hurdle use a pinch-hitter? Juan Nicasio and Felipe Rivero were unavailable due to a heavy workload. Trevor Williams tossed two innings on Sunday.
Glasnow's short outing will strain the bullpen, and the Pirates already have lost Thursday's off day to a makeup game against the Boston Red Sox. Their next scheduled off day is April 20, after back-to-back road series against the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.