I had heard about the project months earlier. In January, I spoke with Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder from his car as he traveled around Florida working with various pitchers in the Rays' system. Snyder was excited about what he and Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow were working on together: a new pitch.
The prospect was tantalizing provided you were not a hitter in the American League East: What if you could give one of the most gifted pitchers in the majors another weapon he could use to baffle batters?
On Opening Day in Miami, Glasnow unveiled the new pitch. In the bottom of the first inning, he unleashed a slider that seemed to break at a right angle and away from Miami Marlins outfielder Starling Marte, who helplessly waved at the pitch for Glasnow's first strikeout of the season. Glasnow threw 26 sliders on the day, having them called as a strike or swung-and-missed 11 times, which is an elite rate. He allowed just one hit - a first-inning single by Jesus Aguilar - over six shutout innings.
Glasnow seemed comfortable with the slider Thursday, generally placing it where he intended. Dealing with small samples early in the season can be dangerous, but this seemed like a new skill that could be a big deal.