“I hate talking about this stuff in interviews,” he says. He worries he’ll sound smugly enlightened. “No, it’s just like mental working out,” he says.

“I think I started doing it to try to become a better pitcher, then I quickly realized that’s not how it works,” he explains. “It took a while, too. The first few years I was like, I don’t think I’m doing this right. And I still have moments where I’m like, I don’t fucking think I’m doing this right.

But it’s helped him avoid both spiraling thought loops and the kind of sports-brain magical thinking he knows is illogical. He used to be prone to superstitions, especially as his starts drew nearer. These days, though, he makes a point to actively work against those inclinations—tying his shoes in a way that feels uncomfortably out of sync with what’s worked in the past, for instance.

Glasnow’s discomfort discussing transcendental enlightenment doesn’t extend to talking about his media diet—which involves a lot of podcasts and audio books. He pulls out his phone to rattle off titles of partially-consumed titles: The Way of Zen, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Calculating God (that one is actually a science-fiction novel, despite its similarly high-minded title), The Art of War.

“Just a bunch of random bullshit,” Glasnow says.

Because of his almost obsessive degree of self-evaluation, I thought Glasnow might bristle at public assessments of him—ones that point, say, to his paltry innings totals in past seasons and label him “fragile” or “injury prone.” But he doesn’t.

“‘Cause they’re right, if you look at it,” he says. He’s already more than halfway to his previous season high, and among the league leaders in innings pitched this year. To Glasnow, that simply stands to reason—he was hurt for a while, and now he’s not.

That sort of explanation may suffice to quell concerns about the value of a particular player, but the subject of elbows, especially for guys who throw gas, is not really that simple in the current baseball landscape. In fact, the issue is that, in this particular respect, Glasnow is not an outlier at all. His surgically-repaired ulnar collateral ligament is just one of many casualties in the pitcher injury epidemic that currently afflicts the sport.

Glasnow—for all his neuroticism—is blasé about the outcome, even as he is thoughtful about the conditions contributing to it.

“The reason everyone is getting injured is because the mentality of pitching nowadays, the last 10 years, has just been: Throw it really, really hard. Which, there’s nothing you can do to change it,” he says. “You’re compared to your peers, you’re compared to other pitchers, and this guy is throwing 97 [mph] with this type of movement. You kind of have to do that.”

At least, you do if you want to be successful.

“It’s ultimately your decision. No one is making you do it.”

Surgery on the UCL has become a rite of passage for the modern professional pitcher. There’s reason to believe the literal arms race for velocity is at least partially the culprit, but Glasnow would prefer that the league not attempt to regulate the competitive edge pitchers are incentivized to seek out. He doesn’t blame Major League Baseball for how we got here, and he doesn’t think it’s the league’s responsibility to do anything about it now.

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