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New weapon has Rays’ Glasnow in peak form

Twins hitting woes continue throughout spring

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Mar 29, 2021

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow struck out 10 over five innings in a 2-0 win over the Minnesota Twins Saturday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Amid a festive atmosphere at Hammond Stadium as spring training approached the finish line in Fort Myers Saturday with fans whistling to each other, the sight of Rays ace Tyler Glasnow dampened the spirits of Twins hitters who struck out 10 times against the righty as the Rays won 2-0.

Carrying a new weapon in a slider he has refined into a 92 mph dart, Glasnow unleashed cruel and unusual punishment to batters who were dealing with a fastball that reached 99.8 mph Saturday.

With his high leg kick and long hair, Glasnow threw five scoreless innings while holding Minnesota to three hits and two walks as the Rays won 2-0 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

Nine different Twins pitchers took the mound Saturday, allowing 10 hits and two runs while combining to strike out eight over nine innings.

Glasnow has been determined to work more on his changeup and develop the slider after a season in which his ERA ballooned to 4.08, following his 2019 breakout season when he threw to a 1.78 ERA. His changeup moved between 91 to 93 mph which is the average fastball for a starting pitcher.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow struck out 10 over five innings in a 2-0 win over the Minnesota Twins Saturday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

“It’s getting better and better,” Glasnow said after Saturday’s game. He said he is concentrating on getting more horizontal movement on the pitch. Glasnow said he has more confidence in slider than his fastball at times in getting a strike.

“It makes pitching a whole lot easier when you have more than two pitches,” he said. Glasnow has thrown his changeup in the past but at only about 5% of his pitches. Glasnow said the differential on his slider from between 88 mph to 92 mph allows him to get one over for a strike and the harder sliders for swings and misses.

He struck out Twins sluggers Nelson Cruz and Josh Donaldson twice swinging, with Cruz going down on a curveball and slider, and Donaldson swinging twice on wicked sliders.

“My timing was good. I think too, the intensity against those guys. You kind of have to bring your best stuff. I think some of my best pitches were against those guys,” Glasnow said.

Glasnow’s killer pitch is still his fast-spinning curveball which was the final determinator on six outs – and half of his strikeouts on the day.

Tampa Bay Rays infielder Mike Brosseau singled in Saturday's game against the Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

“I feel good. I feel ready to go,” Glasnow said.

Bullpens

The Rays and Twins have showcased a few tough relievers.

Twins righties Luke Farrell and Derek Law added to their scoreless streaks in Saturday’s game.

Farrell has not allowed a run for the Twins in six appearances, with batters hitting .150 against him. Law has pitched seven scoreless innings with batters going just .130 against him.

Twins slugger struck out three times Saturday against the Rays, including twice to Rays ace Tyler Glasnow. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

For the Rays, fireballing righty Diego Castillo added an inning to his scoreless streak of six this spring. He is one of seven Rays pitchers to throw multiple innings without allowing a run this spring. The others are Josh Fleming, Shane McClanahan, Brian Moran, Luis Patino, Cody Reed and Joe Ryan.

On the rise

Twins left fielder Kyle Garlick, claimed off waivers from the Braves, has been a big surprise in recent weeks. He is hitting .297 with five homers and gives the Twins another option in the outfield.

Minnesota’s 24-year-old outfielder Trevor Larnach will not make the big league club out of the gate but has enjoyed his second strong spring in a row with a limited number of appearances due to a hamstring strain early in camp. The outfielder is batting .308 with two home runs in 13 at-bats.

Rays outfielder Arozarena has impressed all spring. He hits everything hard, even when it is an out. He will be expected to have a big season after hitting seven homers in just 64 at-bats.

Twins reliever Alex Colome appears to be rounding into form, striking out three in a scoreless inning Saturday against the Rays at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Arozarena runs out every groundball and hustles in the outfield. On one bizarre play, he went down to his knees crouching after a popup from Twins hitter Byron Buxton seemingly went out of his view in the sun, before running backwards to catch it.

Rays catcher Francisco Mejia continues to hit the ball hard. He collected a double off the wall in the 6th inning off Twins reliever Hansel Robles. Mejia was part of the package the Rays received for trading their former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres.

At the bottom

Heading into their final spring training games

against the Pirates, the Twins had the lowest batting average, on-base percentage, OPS and are second in hits and runs in the league.

Among those on the Twins with a batting average below .200 in spring training are: Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, Max Kepler, JT Riddle, Miguel Sano and Andrelton Simmons.

Editor Nathan Mayberg can be reached at 239-765-0400 or Nmayberg@breezenewspapers.com