How far can Rays’ Glasnow go against Astros?

by Gary Shelton on October 10, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Glasnow has to match up against Cole./JEFFREY S. KING

Thursday, 4 a.m.

In the Rays' latest battle to remain alive in the American League playoffs, they will at least have one of their weapons for a little longer than expected.

Tyler Glasnow, who missed most of the season with an arm injury, could throw as many as 90 pitches tonight when he faces Houston's Gerrit Cole in a winner-take-all game against the Astros.

" I think he's pretty close to full go," Rays manager Kevin Cash said Wednesday. "He finished with 76 pitches, roughly, something like that. I believe he's pitching on an extra day. I think he's got a chance to get to that 90 pitch range."

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Willie Adames has become an impact player./CHUCK MULLER

Glasnow has five starts since coming back from his injury, but he hasn't gotten out of the fourth inning yet.

"We'll just see how it goes," Cash said. "That's kind of what we've done with all of these guys that have been coming back from injuries. I think you go in with a game plan, a thought process, but you gauge off how the ball is coming out and how they're feeling. Kyle does such a good job of building those relationships throughout the course of the season to where you get some honest answers here as they're being built up and coming back from an injury."

Glasnow, who missed 107 games, has maintained his velocity through his injury.

 "What impressed me the most or us the most was that he got the ball in the zone really quick," Cash said. "What we saw of Tyler last year, pieces of it, and then in Spring Training, there were some inconsistencies. So when he had the two-and-a-half, three-month injury that kept him out, the major concern is, is he going to come in and able to throw strikes at a high enough tick to where it made sense to continue building him up.

"It's been pretty remarkable what he's done, able to establish strikes in the zone, landing his breaking ball early. And he's really only got to land the curveball a couple of times early in a ball game. Once he does that, I think the opposing lineup recognizes it, you start to see the chase. And from analytically, it seems like he's getting better. His start here against the Astros might have been his best of any of those spin-rate thoughts or readings that they come out with.

Of course, it's only a matter of time before the Rays go to their bullpen. So far, relief pitching has been a key for the Rays. They've negotiated the top part of the Houston lineup well.

"We've got really good pitching," Cash said. "That's the biggest key. I like the fact that for the most part we have attacked them in the strike zone. They're an offense that if you -- I think we saw a little bit with Emilio, if you mess around and don't establish strikes, they're going to get you, and they're going to find their way on base, and that's when they really get the big hit.

"Every little opportunity they've created, it seems like they have found a way to score runs from. Whether it was a miscue on defense, an infield single or a walk, it seems like they've capitalized on it. But the more that we can just stay in control of the count as much as possible has allowed us to have some success."

The Rays' bullpen, which was rebuilt during the season, has had good moments. It's a matter of looks and stuff, Cash said.

"I think it's a combination," Cash said. "Their stuff is really, really good. Now, saying that, I don't know if you're going to see two bigger contrasts from Diego Castillo to Ryan Yarbrough, and then you bring in Nick Anderson. There's a lot of opposites in there. Diego does it with the sinker slider, Yarbs kind of mixes speeds and doesn't break 90 but can really pitch, and then Nick comes in there with kind of the high fastball that can really get on hitters quick.

"So it's a combination of both. But yesterday's game probably that's where the contrast really played a role. And you've probably got to have a little bit of that contrast to be fortunate enough to do what they did against as good as the Astros lineup is."

Imagine the view from the other dugout.

"The different guy every inning is one way to put it," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "I think it's more about the quality they're able to produce. You see what Anderson's throwing, you see Castillo, you see Roe's slider, you see Snell come out of the bullpen throwing 96 again; he hadn't done that since his injury. You see all sorts of different variations.

"They made it perfectly clear they weren't going to let guys see a guy multiple times. And statistically and from a competitive standpoint, that's the way to go. If you really want to be the most effective, that's the approach to go with. It's hard to do that over 162, but in a five-game set, you're seeing them play out their script about as well as they possibly could. It's up to us to make the adjustments. We've seen these guys now. You can't have it both ways. You can't say it's difficult on one guy seeing a guy over and over again, and on the flip side when you see a guy over and over again you've got to find a way to put up good at-bats.

"I love it. I love that we're here. And the way we got here is nerve-wracking just because you don't want to get to a Game 5. We fought all year for have a better record and to win our division to get this particular game at home. And they've got to come into our house and beat us again. With Cole on the mound, I don't know who could be more confident than us."

Whoever the Rays' pitcher is, he can rest easily knowing that Willy Adames is playing shortstop. Adames has had a fine closing finish to the season.

"He's really stepped it up," Cash said. "It's been awesome to sit and watch what he's done briefly in a young career. Two sides of it, defensively we were comfortable, thought that he could play shortstop. Wasn't sure if he was going to be elite level, championship caliber shortstop. He certainly is. The player gets all the credit. I do give Rodney Linares a lot of credit for the work he's put in. He's given Willy a routine, and they stick by that routine day-in and day-out.

"We heard coming up through the minor leagues, Willy kind of always rose up. The brighter the lights, the better he played. We're certainly seeing that now."

But he's playing with an all-time confidence right now. He's had some ups and downs throughout the season. He seemed to really have gotten hot in this postseason. But he's been a lot of fun to watch.

And we talk about Willy, he's one of those guys that have that "it" factor. He carries himself really, really well in the clubhouse. He carries himself really, really well on the field. You can't knock the smile off his face. And his No. 1 priority is winning."

The Rays play the Astros at 7:07 p.m. at Minute Maid Park.

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