ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Dusten Knight arrived within the Tampa Bay clubhouse on Wednesday after an early morning flight from Durham to sign up for the Rays after Jalen Beeks went at the injured record.
He’s been pitching really well at Durham, yet he is additionally been WATCHING some super pitching, too. He’s observed each pitch of Tyler Glasnow’s rehab begins there, and he is blown away with how just right the Tampa Bay famous person is, even after a 12 months clear of baseball following Tommy John surgical operation.
“He looks like a guy who’s ready to go out and pitch the seventh game of the World Series,” Knight said. “He is unhuman. That dude, his stuff is one of the vital purist, nastiest stuff I’ve ever observed
“I think he’s ready now, but obviously there’s a process you have to go through. I wish I had his stuff.”
Most every pitcher would say the same thing. Glasnow is 16-4 with the Rays since 2019 and he’s got electric stuff, a fastball that pushes 100 mph and nasty breaking balls that he can control well. He’s been careful to do his rehab right, and he wasn’t going to pitch this season unless it felt right.
But every step all summer long has gone well for the 6-foot-8 right-hander from Newhall, Calif. He’s checked every box along the way, from bullpen sessions, to live batting practice to facing actual hitters in minor-league games at Triple-A Durham.
He’s pitched three times so far, adding a few pitches in each outing. He’s thrown a total of five innings thus far, giving up just one run and one hit. He’s had three walks and eight strikeouts.
He’s going to pitch in Durham on Friday night, with the goal of him working into the third inning. From there, it’s wait and see as to when — or if — he joins the Rays for the final week or two of the regular season and postseason.
Frankly, I wish he was already here.
I’m not one to question the judgment of the Rays organization when it comes to dealing with the health of their pitchers, but it would have been nice for the fans in St. Petersburg to see him throw those couple of innings this week.
Probably could have sold a few thousand extra tickets, too.
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And why? Because Knight’s comments hit the nail on the head. Glasnow is ready to face big-league hitters, regardless of the situation. He’s never going to go long in a game this season, but he certainly could have pitched two innings for the Rays on Friday against the Blue Jays. Jeffrey Springs, the scheduled starter, is a long-time reliever and he’s pitched behind ”openers” for the Rays this year. It could have worked.
The Rays still have some work to do to make the playoffs, but things are looking good only because the teams behind them — Baltimore, Chicago and Minnesota, haven’t done much to catch them. The Orioles, really, are the only threat left out there.
Their schedule is just as tough as the Rays in these last two weeks, so picking up four-plus games on the Rays is a tall task. That means that Tampa Bay will be playing postseason baseball — and Glasnow will be a part of that, in some way, shape or form.
The next option will be the three-game series in Cleveland, maybe on Wednesday or Thursday, and then in the final series against Boston. (Rest will cover the series in Houston.) It will be great to see what Glasnow can give them down the stretch.
None of that is a given, of course, but it sure will be nice. He could wake up Saturday morning and not feel good, too, and decide to shut it down for the year.
That’s still certainly an option, too.
Through most of the summer, I doubted that Glasnow would pitch this inning, because there was too much at stake for him financially. But when Glasnow and the Rays agreed on a $25 million contract extension, that changed all of my thinking.
Glasnow and the Rays are now tied at the hip through the 2024 season at least. He will still receive the $5.35 million he was slated to earn in 2023, in his final year of arbitration eligibility, then he’ll see a significant raise in 2024.
The contract extension will include a $25 million salary for the 2024 season, a franchise-record for a single season. Prior to Glasnow’s extension, the highest the Rays had ever paid a player in a single season was the $15 million Charlie Morton received in 2019 and 2020.
Now that there’s some financial security, Glasnow can proceed to pitching this season if his health allows him. There’s been nothing to stop that so far. Every outing is a test, so we’ll see.
Still, we’re getting closer and closer to his return. That’s awesome, no matter where it will be.
Too bad, though, that it wasn’t here.
Related stories on Rays baseball
- MINOR LEAGUE AWARDS: The Tampa Bay Rays announced all of their minor-league award winners on Thursday, with first baseman Kyle Manzardo being named the organization’s player of the year. Mason Montgomery was named minor-league pitcher of the year. Here’s the full list of award winners. CLICK HERE
- RAYS NOTEBOOK (Wednesday): Tampa Bay starter Shane McClanahan says he feels great and will make his Sunday start on schedule, Randy Arozarena dismisses reports on his altercation with Yandy Diaz and Jalen Beeks heads to the injured list. All that and more in today’s Rays notebook. CLICK HERE
- RAYS SHUT OUT FOR 2ND STRAIGHT NIGHT (Tuesday): The Tampa Bay Rays were shut out for the second straight night by the Houston Astros, getting blanked on back-to-back days for the first time in more than five years. Ace pitcher Shane McClanahan had to leave the game early with a neck injury, but he said he has no concerns going forward. CLICK HERE
- ASTROS WIN AL WEST AFTER SHUTOUT OF RAYS (Monday): Tampa Bay left 10 men on base and Houston did just enough damage off of Rays starter Drew Rasmussen to win 4-0 on Monday night, clinching the American League West division title in the process. CLICK HERE