It’s time for Pirates fans to shudder again.
Tyler Glasnow will take the mound Friday night when the American League East-leading Rays open a three-game series against the Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Glasnow, a right-hander, was the AL Pitcher of the Month in April and pitched seven shutout innings in his lone start so far in May.
And Glasnow was with the Pirates a year ago, working in long relief while his star was dimming daily. Then, he was shipped, along with Austin Meadows, to the Rays for Chris Archer at last season's trade deadline.
He is 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in seven starts this year. He has also struck out 46 and walked seven in 43 innings.
However, the Pirates have no regrets about the trade. Furthermore, Ray Searage isn’t second-guessing how the organization handled Glasnow, 25, who was long considered the Pirates’ top prospect before reaching the major leagues in 2016.
Searage, though, also added a layer of mystery when I asked about why Glasnow did not blossom with the Pirates.
“He was a young, green kid and there’s some things that were involved, not from my side, but other things that I can’t elaborate on because I don’t want to give anybody a tip,” Searage said. “Now, he’s just after the hitters, challenging them and making pitches. That’s what it boils down to, a mindset.”
Glasnow went 3-11 with a 5.79 ERA in 56 games, including 17 starts, over three seasons with the Pirates. It was a pretty open secret in recent years the Pirates felt he could be uncoachable and was disengaged at times.
I happened to see Glasnow pitch Aug. 31 in Cleveland. He held the Indians, who eventually won the AL Central, to one run and two hits in seven innings but took a hard-luck loss.
Afterward, I asked Glasnow what was different about pitching for the Rays and he said he felt "freer," while declining to elaborate.
The Pirates say they are glad to see Glasnow succeeding. Clint Hurdle sent him a congratulatory text on the day he won the AL monthly honor.
“The kid is great and I’m just really happy for him that he finally found himself and is being successful,” Searage said. “His stuff has always played, but the command wasn’t there and so many other variables were going on with him at the time. He was able to overcome them, go be himself and go attack the hitters.”
• The Pirates are 7-2 in interleague play this season and 22-7 over the two past years, particularly impressive since they are playing teams they rarely face. Hurdle believes a hidden key to the Pirates’ success against AL teams is the work of the team’s advance scouts, who watch upcoming opponents first-hand and relay information back to Hurdle and the coaching staff that might not be picked up on a television broadcast. It is easy to criticize the Pirates for always pinching pennies but the one area they do not scrimp in is scouting, both on the professional and amateur levels. That is refreshing during a time when many clubs are cutting back their scouting departments and relying more on video analysis. -- Perrotto
• Nick Burdi got mixed medical news this week. He was found to have no structural damage in his elbow/biceps area, which was a major concern when he fell to the ground in pain after throwing a pitch April 22 against the Diamondbacks at PNC Park. However, nerve damage was found in the affected area and that could be potentially a major problem for the rookie relief pitcher. Craig Hansen provides a cautionary tale. He was also a young reliever when the Pirates acquired him from the Red Sox in 2008 in the ill-fated four-team trade that sent Jason Bay to Boston. Hansen pitched 16 times for the Pirates in 2008 and five times in 2009. He never returned to the major leagues as nerve damage zapped most of the strength from an arm that once launched 100-mph fastballs. – Perrotto
• Rookie reliever Montana DuRapau, who was called up by the Pirates on Thursday from Triple-A Indianapolis, played at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla. That might seem odd on the surface as Bethune-Cookman is a historically black college and DuRapau is white. However, it illustrates the lack of African-American youths playing baseball today and why Major League Baseball is trying many programs to get more involved in the sport. Many HBCU schools need to recruit white players just to fill out their rosters – Perrotto
• When the Steelers moved up to the 10th pick in the draft to acquire Devin Bush, it was obvious they had him rated higher than the 10th-best player in this draft. After all, it was unlikely, for example, they had quarterback Daniel Jones, who went sixth to the Giants, in their top 10. Turns out, they also were one of a handful of teams that had him rated ahead of fellow inside linebacker Devin White. White went fifth overall to the Buccaneers. White is slightly bigger and was .01-second faster in the 40, but Bush had the better vertical jump (40.5 inches to 39.5), broad jump (124 inches to 118) and three-cone drill (6.93 seconds to 7.07). That last one is critical, showing Bush changes directions very well. In fact, that three-cone time was among the best for all players at the NFL Scouting Combine, regardless of position. And the Steelers loved Bush's game tape and leadership skills, as well. -- Dale Lolley at Rooney Complex
• The Steelers currently have $4.1 million in salary cap space with more than half of their rookies signed to deals. Of course, the big one will be the signing of Bush. The rookie base salary is $495,000 in 2019, but signing bonuses will obviously affect the cap number. CBS Sports this week did an estimation of what each of the players selected in the first round will cost. The site's estimation on Bush, the 10th pick, to be a four-year deal worth $18.751 million. That would include a signing bonus of $11.74 million and put his 2019 cap hit at $3.43 million. -- Lolley
• Kevin Colbert likes to have $3 million in free cap space going into the start of each season. That means the Steelers will have some work to do if they want to get their rookies signed and do anything else this season -- unless moves are made that create cap savings. Right now, the team has $19.5 million in available cap space for 2020, but that doesn't include Bush's contract. It also means that any potential extensions for current players would have to include savings on the contract in 2019. -- Lolley
• One source with direct ties to both the Penguins front office and Evgeni Malkin told me this week he doesn’t expect Malkin to be traded, but this source further confirmed the internal discussion on that front has been very real. — Dejan Kovacevic in St. Louis
• Jim Rutherford’s taking a breather for a few days, as he told me last week. It’s to help clear his head, as he explained, and ensure he acts rationally, not emotionally. So don’t expect much, if anything, on the Penguins’ front for a while. — DK
• Former Penguins prospect Freddie Tiffels has found success in Germany after asking to be released from his contract with the Penguins last September. He recorded six goals and 16 assists in 27 regular season games, adding four goals and five assists in 11 postseason games. Tiffels is now on Germany's second line in the World Championship. One reason he asked for a release was because of Wilkes-Barre's forward depth, which made it difficult for Tiffels to find a regular spot on the AHL roster. Tiffels' time in Wheeling was made more difficult by clashes with former head coach Jeff Christian. Wilkes-Barre coaches would send Tiffels to Wheeling with one message, and Christian would disregard it and send a different message. Tiffels is far from the first prospect to be driven out of the organization during Christian's two years in Wheeling, but he may be the biggest loss. -- Taylor Haase
• The Penguins made the Niclas Almari signing official Thursday, as expected. The Penguins gave Almari the option to come to North America last summer but Almari chose to go back to Finland for a year to give him time to put on more weight. He put on 10 pounds in the last year, and now weighs 180. "When I get bigger I would probably be playing power play, penalty kill, maybe overtimes, ends of the games," Almari told me. "My fitness has to go up, I have to get more mass." -- Haase
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