It can be a rare treat to find a baseball player who likes to talk. So often we hear the same platitudes about “I’m just one part of the team” or “just want to go out there and win” where it feels like players were handed a script at the beginning of the year to use for answers when they can’t say what’s truly on their mind.
Tyler Glasnow does not have that issue, and his openness and candor has made him a popular guest this past week on several big-name baseball podcasts.
With contact limited at spring training sites for journalists, it seemed likely we would only get a few select soundbites everyone shared from the same team Zoom meetings, but Glasnow has gifted us with some incredible gems after two interviews this week, so let’s take a look at the highlights of his two biggest podcast appearances so far.
First up, we have Pitching Ninja.
I don’t mean to point out the obvious here, but I AM the person who wrote a whole post about Tyler Glasnow’s hair, and it is looking VERY impressive throughout this interview. I don’t even mean this in an objectifying way, I mean it in a “my hair is very fine and I would love to know what he does to get that volume” way. (spoiler alert, I will find out the answer in the next podcast.)
Within minutes Glasnow refers to himself as “a goofy mess” in his youth because of his height, that he was a gymnast in his youth (his mother was a coach), and can still do a backflip to this day (though he credits learning that to a bit too much booze on a Mexico trip, not gymnastics).
Glasnow was touching the mid-80s in his junior year, and low-90s by his senior year, and says he changed his delivery path while in the Gulf Coast League by asking himself what the shortest path from point A to point be was for delivery, and says it took him to a 96 mph velocity for the first time. He also pointed out, correctly, he doesn’t need any help adding length to himself.
“It’s better to err on the side of aggression,” he said in terms of adapting new pitches, where velocity can be the thing that makes a pitch unhittable.
He also talked about his experience with Trevor Bauer, who he frequently reaches out to when something in his mechanics wasn’t working, which led to a wonderful discussion about how MLB starting pitchers are more of a community who actually work together and try to help each other. He also discussed sharing tips with Yu Darvish, who had sent him videos on how to develop a new pitch Glasnow was been working on: a slider-cutter combo, which he unfortunately referred to as a “slutter” in early spring training.
When Rob asked why the Rays “have a stable of guys throwing 98?” Glasnow said the Rays like to find outlier pitches the guys throw to help them develop, and to ignore the traditional ideas of what pitchers should do, and do what works for them, and it builds confidence.
“They find guys who are weirdos!” Glasnow said. “The black swans of baseball.”
Glasnow offered a little positive insight on Brent Honeywell Jr., saying, “He’s back to normal... he’s carrying the ball twenty inches.” Glasnow is also confident the team would see Honeywell in the majors this year.
In terms of his “throwing angry” mentality he says the innings where he approaches with an “anger” mentality are much more effortless for him. He also talks about how failure bolsters him, “Once you suck enough times... the more you do it, the more you suck... you take time to process it and understand what [you] did wrong, and the following day [you] have to forget about it... It gets easier as you fail more.”
Glasnow also acknowledges that he’s heard Ninja’s visual comparison for Glasnow to Cillian Murphy a lot, and that has watched and enjoyed Peaky Blinders. Apparently Marcus Stroman has a Cillian Murphy portrait tattoo and someone asked him why he had a Glasnow tattoo...
Next there’s the Chris Rose Rotation, part of the Jomboy Media network.
In the early part of the interview Glasnow blew away a popular baseball movie trope: the catcher shaking his hand from the pain of a 100mph pitch.
Tyler laughed it off saying that sort of thing doesn’t happen outside of Little League thanks to how good the quality of catchers’ gloves are in the majors. He does admit that in the Little Leagues he used it as a measure of how hard he was throwing.
Rose asked Glasnow if he rewatched his World Series starts and Tylers says “they weren’t very quality” so he didn’t have much reason to rewatch them in terms of a learning tool, so he hasn’t revisited them.
On the topic of bad starts, Glasnow was incredibly candid about his time with the Pirates, saying, “In Pittsburgh that was my lowest of lows. I experienced the worst I think I’ll ever feel on a baseball field. The anxiety and everything of how poorly I pitched in Pittsburgh really built the foundation for mental toughness for me.” Later in the interview he talked about how humbling his time in Pittsburgh was because it was his first real experience with failure, but ultimately something he was grateful to have experienced. “I came out the other side way, way stronger.”
Rose brought up the low number of innings pitched by Rays pitchers in general and asked for Glasnow’s take on it. Glasnow started out saying he’s analytically minded and gets “the numbers side of it,” but then added, “there’s been lot of times in the season where I’ve been taken out too early, like I think I’ve been taken out too early, and I get angry. Cash knows that, too.” He does also acknowledge that even when he doesn’t agree with the formula, that it generally works.
In discussion about the Blake Snell decision, Glasnow admits the thinks that, given an opportunity to redo the decision, Cash might do it differently now.
We’ve talked a bit about Glasnow’s “pitch angry” mentality, but Rose asked him if he ever gets mad mid-game, and Glasnow admitted he absolutely has, because he needs to let out the emotion or it builds, and confessed to the destruction of a towel dispenser or two. But he knows better than to punch anything with his right hand.
What was possibly most interesting in the Rose interview over the Pitching Ninja one was the number of time Glasnow turned the questions around and asked Rose something personal. At one point when Glasnow asked Rose what the biggest stress of his job was, Chris got emotional talking about the loss of his mother and remembering her during big events. It was fascinating to see how much Glasnow was able to coax out of his interviewer.
An odd tidbit to come out of the interview was the fact that Glasnow’s brother Ted, a decathlete, has had Tommy John surgery and Tyler has not.
The best quote between two hours of interviews was Glasnow confessing his childhood love of Taco Bell saying, “I’m just a fat kid at heart.”
And about the famous hair? You know it had to come up again!
Tyler gives his dad credit for the hair genes, and then Rose asked the question we’ve all (okay maybe just me?) wanted to know: what’s the routine? Generic shampoo — whatever’s available, apparently — and then “lotion-y oily stuff” to keep it from getting “poofy.” Rose also asked “Can you pitch with a ponytail?” to which Tyler replied with a laugh, “I can, but I choose not to.”
What really comes out during these interviews, aside from a genuine star quality, is Glasnow’s ease in talking about baseball and sports in general.
Glasnow comes across as open and thoughtful through both interviews, giving thorough and amusing answers to all the questions he’s asked. He has a lot of poise and confidence in speaking on topics from pitching to funnier topics, easily poking fun at himself. He also offers plenty of insight for young pitchers coming up, which makes these worthwhile for up-and-coming pitchers who want to know what adjustments might help them.
This strength in communication made him an ideal person to fill the role of the player’s union rep in the Rays clubhouse, a position he has maintained since Chris Archer’s exit, and shows how he could easily slot into a broadcast booth someday down the line.
For now, I’m just looking forward to more podcasts.