Glasnow call-up could trigger remake of Pirates rotation
ST. LOUIS — The Pirates starting rotation is about to get even younger, and it might stay that way beyond the All-Star break.
Top prospect Tyler Glasnow will be called up from Triple-A Indianapolis to start Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“It was cool walking in (to the clubhouse) and seeing all the young guys,” Glasnow said Wednesday. “It was pretty emotional. It’s crazy. I’ve been dreaming about it for a while, so it’s nice to finally see it happen.”
Glasnow, 22, will be the fifth starting pitcher to make his big league debut with the Pirates this season. Chad Kuhl, Jameson Taillon, Steven Brault and Wilfredo Boscan were promoted ahead of Glasnow.
“I was confident enough to know that if I did well, I was going to go up eventually,” Glasnow said. “I did my thing and was happy for everyone to go.”
Of those other four rookies, only Kuhl, who will pitch Saturday against the Chicago Cubs, still is on the active roster. Taillon is on the disabled list. Brault made a spot start Tuesday, then returned to Indy the next day. Boscan also is back with Indy.
A fifth-round pick in 2011, Glasnow rolled through the lower levels of the minor leagues. This season, he is 7-2 with a 1.78 and 1.14 WHIP in 17 starts.
Glasnow’s call-up was triggered when Taillon went on the DL. With Gerrit Cole (strained right triceps) already out, the Pirates needed to fill two rotation spots before the break. One went to Brault, and the other to Glasnow.
Glasnow will be inserted into the Pirates’ rotation Thursday so he can stay on his normal rotation.
“He’s right on schedule,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s put together a very good volume of work at Triple-A. He’s continued to grow, and he understands what he needs to do to be successful.”
After 98 starts over five seasons in the minors, Glasnow has a 2.01 ERA and averages 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. However, he also averages 4.3 walks per nine — a rate that has gotten slightly worse over the past two seasons.
One evaluator whose coverage area includes Indianapolis thinks Glasnow will succeed with the Pirates if he can fine-tune his control.
“No question, he has enough weapons,” the scout said. “He should be fine if he can throw it over the plate. I hope (the Cardinals) don’t go up there and take because it could be five or six walks in a hurry if they do.”
Hurdle said the key for Glasnow is focus.
“When he’s pitching to get outs, it seems the command plays better,” Hurdle said. “When he’s trying to throw strikes or not walk guys, the command gets a little sprayish.”
According to a team source, management has not decided whether Glasnow will stick in the rotation. His performance against the Cardinals will be only part of the equation.
The Pirates are dealing with a jumbled, crowded rotation and have a wave of young arms — Glasnow, Taillon, Brault and Trevor Williams — pushing for playing time. Veterans Francisco Liriano and Jon Niese have underperformed.
The All-Star break begins Monday. When the Pirates return July 15, the rotation could have a fresh look.
Industry sources told the Tribune-Review the Pirates have quietly contacted other clubs to gauge what Niese (7-6, 4.87 ERA) could bring via a trade.
Niese is making $9 million this year. His contract has club options of $10 million in 2017 and $11 million in ’18.
Liriano, who is under contract through 2017, also could be shopped, but his struggles could limit the yield.