There is a certain “it” factor that many professional athletes, movie stars and musicians possess, qualities that fuel their celebrity and attract legions of fans but are often hard to define.

Not so with Tyler Glasnow, the new Dodgers ace with a 6-foot-8, 225-pound frame that oozes athleticism, a personality as big as his 98-mph fastball, the facial look of Academy Award-winning actor Cillian Murphy, the long, flowing locks and occasional lingo of a Lower Trestles surf rat, and an aura that is easier to put into words.

“He’s California cool, easy going, really bright, extremely well-traveled, and he has a little Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times [at Ridgemont High] in him,” said Chris Rose, who has employed Glasnow as a regular co-host on his Jomboy Media podcast, “The Chris Rose Rotation,” for the last three years. “I just think he’s fascinating.

“And on top of everything else, he’s a behemoth of a human being — he’s a combination of an NBA power forward and a guy who should be on the cover of a romance novel — and, oh, he happens to throw a billion miles per hour. He brings a ton of energy into a room. You just feel it when he’s there. Guys dig him.”

The Dodgers did not acquire Glasnow from Tampa Bay in December, sign him to a five-year, $136.5-million extension and hand him the ball for last week’s season-opening win over the San Diego Padres in South Korea and Thursday’s home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals because of his charisma.

They were far more interested in the right-hander’s electric fastball-slider-curveball mix, the fact that he is now 2 ½ years removed from career-saving Tommy John surgery and that, at age 30, “We feel like the arrow is really pointing up,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said.

But Glasnow’s magnetic personality probably will endear him to teammates and fans alike as the Santa Clarita native joins fellow newcomers Yoshinobu Yamamoto and James Paxton in a rebuilt rotation that should be much more formidable than the one that collapsed in a first-round playoff loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks last October.

“I love him — he’s an awesome dude,” said new Angels reliever Robert Stephenson, a teammate of Glasnow’s with the Rays last season. “He definitely fits the SoCal vibe. He’s always laid back. And you never really see him outside of his comfort zone.”

That was apparent to Rose when Glasnow first appeared as a guest on his MLB Network “Intentional Talk” show and why, when Rose moved to Jomboy Media in 2021, one of his first calls was to Glasnow, who is now one of six big leaguers — along with Dodgers infielder Miguel Rojas — who appear regularly on his show.

“We have a loose format — it’s not, ‘Hey, tell me about that 3-and-2 slider,’” Rose said. “We talk about everything, whatever is going on, and Tyler has a different level of ease. There’s very little filter with him, and I mean that in a positive way. He will give you an honest answer. He feels like one of your friends you want to have a drink and chill with.”

The podcast can veer into random, often bizarre, topics as quickly as Shohei Ohtani can turn on a hanging slider, but Glasnow is nimble enough to keep the conversation moving.

In January, Rose showed a video clip that had gone viral of Deobra Redden hurling his body over a bulky desk for an aerial assault of Clark County (Nev.) Judge Mary Kay Holthus after Redden, 30, was sentenced to four years in prison for a violent crime.

“Oh my God! That dude’s an athlete!” said a stunned Glasnow, who was seeing the video for the first time. “It sucks because now he’s going to jail and all that talent is wasted. Honestly, though, courtyard pickup basketball? First overall pick. Every time.”

Last summer, Rose showed Glasnow a clip of fans admitting they wore adult diapers to a Taylor Swift concert because they didn’t want to miss any songs in the bathroom.

“I think that’s kind of cool — I’m on board [with it],” Glasnow said. “What better example of ‘I don’t care what people think’ than peeing in an adult diaper at a Taylor Swift concert, know what I mean?”

When conversation turned to Glasnow’s girlfriend, Meghan Murphy, on another podcast, Glasnow told Rose how the two met during a Rays game in 2021. Glasnow acknowledged during a recent interview at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix that the story is “a little creepy,” but he was more than happy to share the details.

“I saw a girl who was kind of cute, so I had our team photographer zoom in on her — this just sounds very weird — but she was wholesome, with a girl-next-door look,” Glasnow said. “So I wrote my phone number on a ball, threw it to her and told her to text me. She came to the next game, threw me a ball with her number and told me to text her.

“I didn’t think anything would come of it, but then I met her, and she was awesome. She has a really good personality, loves to travel and is really fun, so it’s super easy. That was the first time I’ve ever thrown a ball to someone [with my phone number on it], too. And I still don’t think she believes me.”

Murphy quickly discovered that a passion for travel is a requirement to be in a relationship with Glasnow, who doesn’t merely love to travel — he lives for it.

Glasnow has gone on at least one, and sometimes two, major trips every offseason for a decade or so, often traveling solo and staying in youth hostels during his minor league years before upgrading his accommodations as his big league income grew.

Tyler Glasnow, center, is greeted by a young fan during a skills clinic at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, on March 16.

Tyler Glasnow, center, is greeted by a young fan during a skills clinic at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, on March 16.

(Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press)

“I think he wants to make all the money he can so he can travel to all the places he wants to travel to,” said Kyle Snyder, Glasnow’s pitching coach at Tampa Bay. “He goes where his curiosity takes him.”

Glasnow has traveled to Greece, Paris, Copenhagen, Prague, Amsterdam, the Greek Islands, Thailand and Indonesia and has made numerous trips to Mexico. This winter, he and Murphy went to Peru and toured Machu Picchu, the 15th-century Inca citadel perched on an 8,000-foot-high mountain ridge.

“There’s a mystical weirdness about the place that is so cool,” Glasnow said of the ancient stone-walled structures of the Lost City of the Incas. “And the history element of it is cool. Just seeing it was pretty insane, and the tour guide we had was so good.”

Glasnow’s older brother, Ted, accompanied him on some of his earlier trips. Glasnow has met friends or former high school teammates in some cities.

“But I liked being alone a lot, too,” Glasnow said. “It’s fun. You get to do whatever you want. You stay in a hostel or something, meet random people and jump around.”

Glasnow got his first taste of South Korea with the Dodgers last week. Next up on his vacation wish list: Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

“I genuinely think his best days are in front of him and that, in the near-term, he will be as good a starter as there is in the National League.”

— Kyle Snyder, Glasnow’s pitching coach at Tampa Bay

“A lot of my memories as a kid were going on trips with family, like to snowboard, and anytime we’d leave the house to go do something, it was like, ‘God, I like this so much,’ and I didn’t have to go to school,” Glasnow said. “Going on a plane is my happy place. I love the airport more than anywhere. It’s the best.”

Glasnow should have enough money after his Dodgers contract expires to travel the world over, but he still has some domestic destinations to check off his list: an All-Star Game, a Cy Young Award show appearance, a World Series victory parade.

All could be within reach if Glasnow continues the arc of a baseball career that began to take shape as an awkward teenager at Newhall Hart High School and has been trending upward — even with a detour for elbow surgery — for the last seven years.

Glasnow could always throw hard and spin a nice breaking ball as a kid, but a high school growth spurt that saw him sprout from a 5-foot-8 freshman to a 6-foot-6 junior made it difficult for him to repeat his delivery.

Dodgers pitcher Tyler Glasnow with Hart coach Jim Ozella, who coached him in high school.

Dodgers pitcher Tyler Glasnow with Hart coach Jim Ozella, who coached him in high school.

(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

“He was big, tall and lanky — he had a size 15 or 16 shoe, with long arms and huge hands — and as he grew into his body, there was a lot of inconsistency,” said Jim Ozella, Glasnow’s high school coach. “He was constantly struggling with his mechanics.”

There were days Glasnow was unhittable, when he’d rack up 10 or more strikeouts in four or five innings, and others when he’d drive his pitch count up with so many walks and hit batsmen that he wouldn’t make it to the fourth inning.

“It was harder to time up my delivery, and it was always hard to throw strikes,” Glasnow said. “I’d have a really good game, then a really bad game, then a really good game. It was hard to find that in-between.”

Glasnow had only one college offer, from the University of Portland, but the Pittsburgh Pirates saw enough potential in his projectable body, low-90s fastball and breaking ball to select him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft and sign him for $600,000.

Glasnow rose steadily through Pittsburgh’s farm system, going 36-18 with a 2.03 ERA in five minor league seasons from 2012 to 2016, striking out 645 and walking 246 in 500 innings.

But he struggled during his first extended big league stint, going 2-7 with a 7.69 ERA in 15 games, 13 of them starts, for the Pirates in 2017. He then pitched in long relief for Pittsburgh in 2018, going 1-2 with a 4.34 ERA in 34 games, with 72 strikeouts and 34 walks in 56 innings.

The Rays saw something different in Glasnow when they acquired him from the Pirates for pitcher Chris Archer at the trade deadline in 2018: a starting pitcher.

Glasnow was inserted into the Tampa Bay rotation with directions from Snyder to aim for the heart of the plate and let his movement — especially the natural cut on his fastball, which averaged 97 mph and touched 100 mph at the time — do the rest.

After a rocky two months to close out 2018, Glasnow fought through persistent arm problems to go 16-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 37 starts from 2019 to 2021, striking out 290 and walking 63 in 206 innings before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

“It was simplifying my mentality as opposed to trying to dot up everything,” Glasnow said. “They were like, ‘Your stuff is so good, just throw it down the middle.’ Over time, I realized that my stuff, my command, is pretty good when I’m aiming for a bigger spot, and then as I got confident there, I could start going up and down.”

The Rays encourage most of their young pitchers with high-octane stuff to adopt a similar approach, but not all take to it the way Glasnow did.

Tyler Glasnow pitches during a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins in July.

Tyler Glasnow pitches during a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins in July.

(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

“I think we helped him understand how big the strike zone is,” Snyder said. “We encouraged four-seam fastball usage and the better part of the zone before two strikes, and he took to it pretty quickly. He wasn’t too focused on the perimeter of the zone.

“As he got to attacking hitters, he found himself in really favorable counts and a lot of strong, two-strike counts. Then he would basically expand above and below the zone with two strikes.”

Glasnow credits the Pirates with helping him develop a pre-start routine that, by the time he got to Tampa Bay, was organized “down to the minute in terms of his time of meditation, how much time he spends in the weight room, his plyometric routine before he goes out to warm up,” Snyder said.

As he honed his new attacking mentality, Glasnow was finally able to synchronize his long limbs and levers and find a delivery that worked for him, scrapping his full windup to pitch exclusively out of the stretch.

“I’d say 2019, 2020, was the first time that I started to feel comfortable with my mechanics on a consistent basis,” said Glasnow, who is athletic enough to do a standing backflip and walk on his hands, provided he is in a room with a high ceiling. “That process took a lot longer than maybe people think.”

After helping the Rays reach the 2020 World Series, where they lost to the Dodgers to close out that pandemic-shortened season, Glasnow went 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts in 2021, striking out 123 and walking 27 in 88 innings, before an elbow that began bothering him in 2019 finally gave out.

Glasnow underwent Tommy John surgery that August in which Dr. Keith Meister, a Texas-based orthopedic surgeon, reinforced the replacement ligament with a synthetic collagen band, known as an internal brace.

Tyler Glasnow throws during spring training workouts at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix on Feb. 19.

Tyler Glasnow throws during spring training workouts at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix on Feb. 19.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

“He throws 100 mph, so it already gets on you fast, and then, by the way, I’ll basically reach out and put the ball in the [catcher’s] glove myself with his extension … it’s just mind-boggling.”

— Ryan Yarbrough, Dodgers reliever, on Glasnow’s release point

After sitting out the first two months of 2023 because of an oblique strain, Glasnow went 10-7 with a 3.53 ERA in 21 starts last season, striking out 162 and walking 37 in a career-high 120 innings and limiting opponents to a .209 average and .617 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

His fastball averaged 96.4 mph, a tick down from his 97.0-mph average in 2021, and his slider averaged 90.1 mph. He held opponents to an .095 average (10 for 105) in at-bats ending with his 84-mph curve, which averaged 52.6 inches of vertical drop.

“He was probably the best pitcher in baseball in 2021 when he got hurt, and I finally think he’s primed to show people what he’s capable of,” Snyder said. “I genuinely think his best days are in front of him and that, in the near-term, he will be as good a starter as there is in the National League.

“His athleticism and body control, the power he has in his delivery, and then the leverage he gets because of his size and length … it’s incredible.”

As hard as Glasnow throws, his fastball plays up because of his way-above-average extension, which quantifies how much closer a pitcher’s release point is to home plate.

According to Snyder, the average release point for major league right-handers is 6 feet, 2 inches from the front of the rubber. Glasnow averaged 7 ½ feet last season — only four pitchers were longer — and Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes said Glasnow reached eight feet on one 100-mph fastball this spring.

“That’s absolutely absurd,” said Dodgers reliever Ryan Yarbrough, who played with Glasnow in Tampa Bay for 4 ½ seasons. “It kind of makes it unfair. He throws 100 mph, so it already gets on you fast, and then, by the way, I’ll basically reach out and put the ball in the [catcher’s] glove myself with his extension … it’s just mind-boggling.”

Glasnow provided a glimpse of his potential in three Cactus League starts in which he gave up one run and four hits and struck out 14 in 10 innings, and he closed exhibition play with 5 ⅓ no-hit innings and eight strikeouts against San Francisco on March 12.

His season-opening start for the Dodgers was more of “a grind,” he said, but despite walking four and having no feel for his signature curve, Glasnow still held the Padres to two runs and two hits and struck out three in five innings of a 5-2 victory.

Portrait of Dodgers pitcher Tyler Glasnow

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Glasnow’s next start will be his first in Dodger Stadium for the team he grew up rooting for, the one that acquired him as part of a $1.2-billion winter spending spree, the one with a $300-million payroll and World-Series-or-bust expectations.

Glasnow is trying not to attach too much significance to the homecoming, because he knows that would create unnecessary stress.

“When I was younger, I would always be like, ‘I have this start, and if I do well, this might happen,’ and I’d get into this mental vortex of hypotheticals,” Glasnow said. “So now, I don’t overthink it. I’ll just take it as it comes.”

But it’s hard to overstate Glasnow’s importance to the Dodgers, who have plenty of star power in a lineup featuring most valuable player award winners Mookie Betts, Ohtani and Freddie Freeman but will need consistent quality starts from a rotation fronted by Glasnow to play deep into October.

Rose, for one, says he thinks his podcast partner is up to the task.

“What probably gets lost in all of our discussions because he is so free and easy with everything else is how serious he is about his craft, how important being great is to him,” Rose said.

“He’s a true perfectionist, and now that he has this nine-figure deal with his hometown team, a team with every set of eyeballs on it, where every five days the lights are gonna shine on him, I think it’s going to be really important for him to not just be this amazing personality but to be the amazing pitcher he can be.”



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