The Tampa Bay Rays are so fascinating at this point you could look up and down their roster and struggle to find a player who isn’t intriguing in some way, shape or form.
From the reigning Cy Young winner in Blake Snell to Jose Alvarado’s otherworldly fastball movement to Tommy Pham’s penchant for speaking his mind, the American League East leaders have no shortage of storylines. But you don’t just get off to an 12-4 start on narratives alone. That’s where the duo of outfielder Austin Meadows and starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow come in.
Once the top prospects in the Pirates’ pipeline, the 24-year-old Meadows and 25-year-old Glasnow are showing flashes of true stardom in Tampa Bay after being acquired in a deal that sent then-Rays’ ace Chris Archer to Pittsburgh at the 2018 trade deadline.
Tyler Glasnow’s star turn
How do you become a bigger draw than a teammate like Snell who last season owned a league-best 1.89 ERA last year? If you’re Glasnow, you do it by striking out 21 of 64 batters faced, allowing one earned run in three starts and issue just three walks total. That comes out to a 0.53 ERA and 0.824 WHIP in three games.
Since giving up a home run to Houston’s Alex Bregman in the first inning of his first start, Glasnow has been Jacob deGrom-like in his dominance, shutting down both the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants on the road.
Those may not be the most fearsome lineups in the league, but Glasnow’s arsenal had them as confused as ever. By easing up on his fastball use to start the year (64.8%) and increasing his reliance on his curveball (31.1%), Glasnow has found his knockout combination.
Tyler Glasnow, 83mph Curveball Steals Longoria's Soul. 👻 pic.twitter.com/wE1SA99u3o— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 5, 2019
Tyler Glasnow, Disgusting 83mph Curveball. 🤢— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 11, 2019
This pitching staff....man. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/kVY0nCjEkX
Tyler Glasnow, Insane Strikeout of Tim Anderson. 😱— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 11, 2019
That's some Kerry Wood 20K game stuff. pic.twitter.com/sUmXDXYkxA
That last strikeout sequence had Tim Anderson — MLB’s batting average leader entering Sunday at .444 — completely lost and looking very frustrated.
Austin Meadows keeps going long
What Glasnow is doing every fifth day, Austin Meadows is doing each at-bat.
Through 14 games, Meadows is slashing .385/.467/.788 with six home runs including this moonshot against Toronto on Friday.
Meadows has hit more dingers in the first month of the season than he did in 49 games with the Pirates last year (five).
It makes you wonder just why the Pirates dealt the two to begin with.
“From Pittsburgh’s standpoint, it fills the void atop their rotation following the offseason trade of Gerrit Cole to Houston.
Another key for Pittsburgh is control and affordability. Archer is set to make $7.6 million next season, which is quite a bargain for a No. 1 or No. 2 starter. Archer then has team options for $9 million in 2020 and $11 million in 2021, meaning Pittsburgh could retain him for more than three seasons at a great rate even for them.
His power game hasn’t developed yet, but Meadows has impressed with his ability to use the entire field and handle both right-handed and left-handed pitching. He figures to be a Rays regular right away.
Glasnow, 25, hasn’t quite turned the corner yet in his development. He’s a big talent with a good mix of pitches and an aggressive approach.”
Not even a full year later, it feels safe to say both players have turned the corner. If you’re Pittsburgh, that might be a bit agonizing to handle as the Pirates are off to a 7-6 start in a loaded NL Central.
Meadows and Tyler Glasnow have been worth 1.9 WAR together, representing nearly 70% of the Pirates’ team total of 2.8.— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) April 14, 2019
It’s hard to fault a team that decides to go all-in on a playoff run, and it’s even tougher when you consider that clubs often overvalue their own prospects. Even still, letting Meadows and Glasnow go for a few years of Chris Archer feels like highway robbery by the Rays at the moment.
Maybe that changes, maybe it doesn’t. In the meantime, you won’t want to miss this duo continue to dominate the AL East.
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