Yesterday was a big day. The first ever photo of a black hole was released. A black hole located in a galaxy more than 50 million light-years away being visible on my computer screen is the type of stuff that makes you question your existence. But have you seen Tyler Glasnow pitch recently?
If you really want to question your existence, just go take a look at Tyler Glasnow’s numbers. The former top prospect has, in three starts, given up just one run and three walks while striking out twenty-one batters. Just insane numbers. So far, anyway.
I’m a massive Glasnow fan. I have been and always will be. When he was first dealt to the Rays, it was a bit of a shocking move given the Pirates reluctance to part with any prospects in the past. Especially given the fact that there were two other highly rated prospects in Austin Meadows and Shane Baz in the trade along with Glasnow. Losing Glasnow was a tough pill to swallow and seeing him dominate, so far, has been pretty frustrating. I know many people think that a change of scenery was good for him, but I really believe that if he was given a full-blown opportunity in Pittsburgh, he would have succeeded just as he’s doing in Tampa.
If he was a Pittsburgh Pirate, Glasnow would have been a perfect fit for the 5th starter role. But he ?s not and I have no choice but to move on. But that might just be OK, because a former top prospect is looking very good early on.
Jordan Lyles, who back in 2011 was a top prospect, just struck out 10 hitters yesterday against the Cubs. Calling Lyles a former ‘top prospect’ might not mean too much considering that was 8 years ago, but striking out 10 is notable no matter his status.
Fellow writer Alex Stumpf did some digging on this yesterday, and he found a few interesting facts from Lyles’ game yesterday:
Pirates with 10+ strikeouts in a game since 2017:
Jameson Taillon (x2)
Gerrit Cole (x2)
Jordan Lyles (tonight)
— Alex Stumpf (@AlexJStumpf) April 11, 2019
Lyles struck out 10 on 87 pitches tonight. Since pitch count started to be tracked in 1988, the only other Pirate pitchers to strike out that many on 87 pitches or fewer in their start are Ian Snell (86 pitches, 11 Ks on 4/3/07) and James McDonald (86 pitches, 11 Ks on 5/17/12).
— Alex Stumpf (@AlexJStumpf) April 11, 2019
Basically, a pitcher getting 10 strikeouts has been incredibly rare, at least for the Pirates. But Jordan Lyles managed to do it in just his second start against a tough Cubs lineup. The Cubs might be just 3-8, but that isn’t due to a lack of offense. Through 11 games, the Cubs are averaging 6.73 runs per game, which is 3rd most in the MLB.
So while you (or maybe just me?) are experiencing depression from witnessing Tyler Glasnow tear up the league, just keep in mind that it’s OK to appreciate what the Pirates currently have. It’s way too early too come to any conclusions, but Jordan Lyles is indeed a former top prospect, and just did something that very few Pirates have ever done (striking out 10 on 87 pitches).
If this rotation performs to its potential, the Pirates have a legitimate shot at being a playoff contender. The Pirates rotation currently has a 1.93 ERA, which is nearly a full run lower than any other NL team. Really, this season hasn’t had very many surprises so far. The rotation has been very good, the bullpen has been as good as expected, the hitting has been OK, and the fielding has been frustrating, to say the least.
Last year when the Archer for Glasnow-Meadows-Baz trade first happened, I wrote that the Pirates should build on that momentum and continue to be aggressive throughout the offseason. That didn’t happen. In fact, the Pirates made the majority of their moves early in the offseason when they acquired Erik Gonzalez and Lonnie Chisenhall. Not exactly the big moves I was hoping for. The Jordan Lyles signing was a good one, but again, not exactly the type of stuff you are looking for after acquiring someone like Chris Archer.
While I was hoping for someone like Manny Machado, or Dallas Keuchel, or Craig Kimbrel, or Jed Lowrie, or Jose Iglesias, the Pirates ended up getting none of those. So far, the Lyles signing has been good. It has only been 2 starts, but they have been 2 good starts. But aside from that, the Erik Gonzalez move has been as underwhelming as expected and Lonnie Chisenhall didn’t even make it out of spring training healthy.
While we watch Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows play to their upside, we will have no choice but to hope Jordan Lyles continues to pitch well. Kevin Newman has already committed as many throwing errors in 2019 than Jordy Mercer did in all of 2018. Erik Gonzalez will be lucky to be as good of a hitter as Jordy Mercer was, which wasn’t very good, so his glove really needs to play.
Overall, the offseason was a disappointment in my eyes. The start to Glasnow and Meadows’ seasons have amplified that disappointment. I’m an upside guy through and through, and the Pirates inability to land a good shortstop option is rather upsetting after seeing what they gave up to acquire a starting pitcher, a position in which they have depth at.
Hopefully, the Pirates can stay afloat until the trade deadline. Getting Dickerson, Polanco, and Chisenhall back will be helpful, but it won’t solve the main problem, which seems to be a front office that can’t pick a direction.