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After years of starring in a smaller market, Tyler Glasnow is fitting in with the Dodgers just fine

'There’s a few more cameras, but it doesn’t feel any different,' Glasnow said of his first spring at Camelback Ranch

A lot has changed since the first time Tyler Glasnow was traded.

He overhauled his arsenal, cleaned up his mechanics and reined in what seemed to be entirely untenable control issues. He defied the skeptics who pegged him as a reliever and established himself as a viable big-league starting pitcher. He hurt his elbow and missed five months. He pitched in a World Series during a pandemic. He hurt his elbow again and got Tommy John surgery, missing a whole year. He rehabbed and returned as one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers.

The past half-decade of ups and downs prepared Glasnow for the latest plot twist in his career: an offseason trade from the small-market, underdog Tampa Bay Rays to the big-budget L.A. Dodgers — the center of the baseball universe — followed by a four-year, $111.5 million extension. In turn, Glasnow’s inaugural days in Dodger blue came with a vastly different mindset than when the Pirates traded him to the Rays in the summer of 2018, a few weeks before his 25th birthday.

“Well, I sucked with Pittsburgh,” Glasnow told Yahoo Sports, ever so bluntly. “So that was the difference.”

He went on: “I wasn't at a confidence high” arriving in Tampa Bay. “I was just like, ‘I hope I do well.’”

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'When I got traded this time, I was excited'

This time around, Glasnow arrived at his new clubhouse with a much clearer idea of who he is as a person and as a pitcher — and with a heightened level of excitement about his new opportunity with the Dodgers. “I went [to Tampa Bay], and they developed me so well, and I had such a good time,” he said. “That trade went so well that when I got traded this time, I was excited.”

Glasnow’s relative comfort on the field at this point in his career has further enabled his personality off the field to embrace the change of scenery — and it doesn’t hurt that Glasnow thrives in new settings by nature. “I love meeting a whole new room of baseball players. I'm like, ‘I get to meet 50 new people?’” he said of his initial feelings post-trade. “It was awesome.”

It also doesn’t hurt that Glasnow brings a stellar track record of on-field success to his new team because, well, he did not suck with Tampa Bay. While injuries often limited his time on the mound to intervals of brilliance, Glasnow’s electric arsenal has rightly been celebrated for years and proved to be a worthy gamble for a Dodgers team looking to add star power to its rotation.

After returning from the oblique strain that cost him the first two months of the 2023 season, Glasnow was healthy and excellent for the remainder of the year en route to a career-high 120 innings. Here are his ranks among 55 qualified starting pitchers from his first start on May 27 through the end of the 2023 season:

  • 10th in fWAR (3.2)

  • 19th in ERA (3.53)

  • 3rd in FIP (2.91)

  • 11th in WHIP (1.08)

  • 7th in BAA (.208)

  • 5th in GB% (51.2%)

  • 4th in K% (33.4%)

Armed with exceptional velocity and two different hellacious breaking balls, Glasnow’s dual ability to generate whiffs and grounders at elite rates is exceedingly rare. He was especially troublesome for right-handed hitters last season: Righty bats slashed a paltry .164/.228/.264 against him, equating to a .492 OPS that was the lowest mark allowed by any pitcher who faced at least 200 right-handed batters.

'I feel like I’m talking to brothers'

Beyond his well-established on-field rep, a few other factors eased Glasnow’s transition to his new club. His parents moved to Arizona in 2019, so he’d spent plenty of time in the desert before reporting to his first Cactus League spring training. Two of his favorite teammates from his Rays days, Ryan Yarbrough and J.P. Feyereisen, were familiar faces on a Dodgers roster largely made up of new personalities for Glasnow to learn. And as difficult as it was to say goodbye to the Rays — an organization Glasnow raves about to this day — it helped that the guy leading the Dodgers front office was also a Rays alum.

Indeed, to emphasize how uniquely close he was with the Tampa Bay front office and coaching staff, Glasnow recently told a story about how he hung out with Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander shortly after his trade to L.A. was finalized. Once he learned where he was headed, Glasnow wanted to know more about Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who spent a decade in the Rays front office, including many years alongside Neander, before taking the Dodgers GM job after the 2014 season.

“I asked Erik about Andrew, and then once I met Andrew, they were like twins,” Glasnow said, adding that the two are eerily similar. “I feel like I’m talking to brothers, so it was just such an easy transition.”

In most camps, the acquisition and subsequent extension of Glasnow would be one of the biggest storylines leading up to Opening Day. Yet because the trade for Glasnow was sandwiched between the historic signings of Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto — not to mention that he joined a team that already featured multiple MVPs and future Hall of Famers — Glasnow, remarkably, gets somewhat lost in the shuffle. His early bullpens and live BP sessions on the backfields of Camelback Ranch drew a fraction of the fanfare of his new peers’ exploits in low-stakes practice settings.

Already plenty familiar with how remarkable Ohtani is, Glasnow also had a bit of history with Yamamoto that made him that much more excited to call him a teammate as well. Glasnow’s agent, Joel Wolfe of Wasserman Media Group, also represents Yamamoto, and Glasnow heard about how special the right-hander is well before he had any notion that they might one day occupy the same big-league rotation.

“I’d look at his TrackMan data and be like, ‘Wow, this guy's pretty good,’ even just looking at that,” he said. “But then actually watching him in person, it's just so much more impressive.”

Tyler Glasnow is also impressed by his two new Japanese teammates. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
Tyler Glasnow is also impressed by his two new Japanese teammates. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) (Masterpress via Getty Images)

'Literally everyone’s an awesome person'

Now that they’re in the same place, Glasnow says he doesn’t mind that the spotlight remains on his more high-profile teammates, even if he is wholly comfortable with the added attention of playing in a bigger market.

“For the most part, baseball is baseball, right?” he said. “To come here and have camp go on, I'm like, ‘Oh, this is the same thing.’ There’s a few more cameras, but it doesn't feel any different.”

If anything, he says he has felt the difference in the repetitive nature of engaging with a larger amount of media looking to get to know him better.

“Some little funny thing that you say in an interview, and then someone will maybe ask about it once or twice. Now it's like, every interview for a week is that thing. And then it's like, a hair question,” Glasnow said, acknowledging his much-discussed locks. “It used to be, like, three a month. Now it's, like, 50 a month. Like, it's just those little things.”

“But I also don't mind — people write about what they think people want to read, so I don't really care — it is what it is.”

Glasnow also says he has no issue with the pressure that comes with joining a team that just spent more than $1 billion in a single offseason. “I’ve come to accept that, like, you play good, it’s good,” he said. “You play bad, and people talk s***.”

Fortunately, Glasnow is extremely confident in the group of people the Dodgers have assembled ahead of this highly anticipated season — and not just the players. For all the hype surrounding the overwhelming amount of talent on the field, Glasnow is effusive in his praise of the clubhouse community in which he has slowly engrained himself. He mentioned Jason Heyward — whose physical stature took even the 6-foot-8 Glasnow by surprise: “He’s a monster” — as one of several teammates who stand out as fantastic human beings as much as they are good ballplayers.

“It's cool. They're all very normal, humble people. Literally everyone’s an awesome person. There's not a single person that's, like, kind of a bad teammate. And I think that's been a huge emphasis for the Dodgers. I'd hear some teams would say that, and I'd be like, ‘sure,’” he said with a look of skepticism.

“But it's so true. Everyone's solid.”