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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The openers experiment isn’t really an experiment anymore for Tampa Bay

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — They weren’t trying to change the whole game, just their own. They were secure enough to try, humble enough to allow that the whole thing could be very, very flammable. They let everyone laugh or grouse or turn away, whatever. In the end, as it happened, most were also taking notes.

So the Tampa Bay Rays won 90 games and had sparked, if not a movement exactly, certainly an inclination to reconsider the best way — or still another way — to 27 outs. That it didn’t look quite right, they’d leave others to judge, many of whom won fewer than 90 games. So.

What might’ve appeared to be some newfangled funk was, actually, the oldest of old school, which is trying to win a baseball game. That means standing where you think they’re going to hit it. That means using the pitcher best qualified in the moment. Sometimes risking something for the greater good. Winning, and not being afraid to look a little goofy doing it, if that’s what comes.

So, how long before Manfred becomes involved?

 

QLE Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:13 AM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: opener, rays

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   1. TDF, trained monkey Posted: March 19, 2019 at 09:30 AM (#5823650)
What might’ve appeared to be some newfangled funk was, actually, the oldest of old school, which is trying to win a baseball game. That means standing where you think they’re going to hit it. That means using the pitcher best qualified in the moment. Sometimes risking something for the greater good. Winning, and not being afraid to look a little goofy doing it, if that’s what comes.

So, how long before Manfred becomes involved?
Because the last thing baseball needs is...(checks notes)...teams trying to win games.
   2. Nasty Nate Posted: March 19, 2019 at 09:44 AM (#5823654)
The Rays' 2018 pitching stats page is a bizarre thing.
   3. PreservedFish Posted: March 19, 2019 at 09:50 AM (#5823655)
I'm of two minds about this.

On the one hand, I'm not excited about baseball's long steady march towards 9 pitchers, 9 innings. The "Middlers" seemed to go about 4 innings each.

On the other, I find it exciting when teams are willing to experiment, and ignore a century of conventional wisdom. If the 7 inning start is all but a thing of the past, then I support creative and unusual ways of deploying the 4+ pitchers that will get into the game.
   4. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: March 19, 2019 at 11:14 AM (#5823692)
The Rays' 2018 pitching stats page is a bizarre thing.
Ray Stanek is second on the team in starts and threw 66 innings!

Oakland's Liam Hendricks averaged less than an inning a game, despite making 8 starts.
   5. bobm Posted: March 19, 2019 at 11:28 AM (#5823709)
[4]

For Single Seasons, From 1871 to 2018, (requiring GS>=20), sorted by smallest Innings Pitched

                                                                              
Rk            Player   IP GS Year Age  Tm Lg  G CG SHO GF W  L  ERA ERA+ BAbip
1        Ryne Stanek 66.1 29 2018  26 TBR AL 59  0   0 10 2  3 2.98  140  .253
2       Jason Vargas 92.0 20 2018  35 NYM NL 20  0   0  0 7  9 5.77   64  .313
3        Kirk Rueter 92.1 20 1994  23 MON NL 20  0   0  0 7  3 5.17   82  .311
4      Pascual Perez 95.1 22 1985  28 ATL NL 22  0   0  0 1 13 6.14   62  .325
5      Drew Pomeranz 96.2 22 2012  23 COL NL 22  0   0  0 2  9 4.93   94  .297
6    Adalberto Mejia 98.0 21 2017  24 MIN AL 21  0   0  0 4  7 4.50   99  .328
7         Alex White 98.0 20 2012  23 COL NL 23  0   0  0 2  9 5.51   84  .315
8    Horacio Ramirez 98.0 20 2007  27 SEA AL 20  0   0  0 8  7 7.16   61  .350
9          Kip Wells 98.2 20 2000  23 CHW AL 20  0   0  0 6  9 6.02   84  .346
10       Steve Avery 99.0 20 1990  20 ATL NL 21  1   1  1 3 11 5.64   72  .353


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/19/2019.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: March 19, 2019 at 11:43 AM (#5823719)
The Rays' 2018 pitching stats page is a bizarre thing.
Ray Stanek is second on the team in starts and threw 66 innings!
They had at least four guys average 3 innings or more per relief outing!
   7. bobm Posted: March 19, 2019 at 01:07 PM (#5823764)
From 1908 to 2018, as Reliever, (requiring IPouts>=9), sorted by greatest Performances matching selected criteria by a Team

                                  
Rk    Tm Year            #Matching
1    BOS 1982        81 Ind. Games
                                  
2    SEA 1977        76 Ind. Games
2    SEA 1978        76 Ind. Games
2    CAL 1980        76 Ind. Games
                                  
5    TBR 2018        74 Ind. Games
                                  
6    KCR 1982        73 Ind. Games
7    CLE 1976        73 Ind. Games
7    CAL 1987        73 Ind. Games
                                  
9    SEA 1979        70 Ind. Games
                                  
10   TEX 1973        69 Ind. Games


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/19/2019.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: March 19, 2019 at 01:10 PM (#5823766)
1 BOS 1982 81 Ind. Games


The year Bob Stanley led the AL in ERA+ with 168 relief innings.

   9. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: March 19, 2019 at 01:14 PM (#5823770)
Because the last thing baseball needs is...(checks notes)...teams trying to win games.

Teams try to win games given the rules set by the league. If the league deems it better for the fan experience to change a rule, it should do so.
   10. TDF, trained monkey Posted: March 19, 2019 at 01:30 PM (#5823771)
Teams try to win games given the rules set by the league. If the league deems it better for the fan experience to change a rule, it should do so.
The league has done that by dictating how many batters a P must face, and the number of P a team can carry next season.

Saying something like "A SP must stay in the game long enough to face every starting batter once" is neither realistic, going to enhance the fan experience, nor going to change the use of the "opener".
   11. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: March 19, 2019 at 02:20 PM (#5823793)
Saying something like "A SP must stay in the game long enough to face every starting batter once" is neither realistic, going to enhance the fan experience, nor going to change the use of the "opener".


Personally, I enjoy the game much more when there are identifiable starting pitchers. When an opposing team comes to town, I may very well decide which game to attend based on who's pitching. I like scanning the daily matchups to see who's starting. YMMV.

I'm still undecided on what MLB should do, if anything, to stem the use of openers. But like Manfred, I'll consider anything.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 19, 2019 at 02:27 PM (#5823795)
Personally, I enjoy the game much more when there are identifiable starting pitchers. When an opposing team comes to town, I may very well decide which game to attend based on who's pitching. I like scanning the daily matchups to see who's starting. YMMV.
Teams could post the openers and the "headliners," like multi-band shows. And then if you got to see a pitcher as an opener who later went on to be a star, you could brag about it for years to come. Like "I saw Green Day opening for Jawbreaker in 1991!"
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: March 19, 2019 at 02:34 PM (#5823802)
Personally, I enjoy the game much more when there are identifiable starting pitchers. When an opposing team comes to town, I may very well decide which game to attend based on who's pitching. I like scanning the daily matchups to see who's starting.
As far as I know, the Rays don't hide any especially interesting starters behind their openers. Snell, Morton, and Glasnow will be real starters.

If you're the type of fan who has a preference between Jalen Beeks, Austin Pruitt, and Ryan Yarbrough, you probably already know who is lined up to pitch the middle chunk of innings.
   14. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 19, 2019 at 02:39 PM (#5823806)
It's interesting that the Rays didn't do this opener business with Blake Snell, their best pitcher. Not even once. Or with Tyler Glasnow, after he came over from the Pirates. It's as if they know it's not something you do with a "real" starting pitcher.
   15. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 19, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5823810)
"I saw Green Day opening for Jawbreaker in 1991!"

I saw Bon Jovi open for Ratt in 1985.
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:05 PM (#5823812)
I saw Bon Jovi open for Ratt in 1985.
Trying to come up with a baseball analogy...Jack Morris and Mark Fidrych were teammates on the '78 and '79 Tigers. Not quite sure which year works best in terms of the relative career trajectories, but I think Morris opening for Fidrych is pretty accurate.
   17. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:18 PM (#5823815)
Greg Maddux opening for Rick Sutcliffe in 1986.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:25 PM (#5823819)
The league has done that by dictating how many batters a P must face, and the number of P a team can carry next season.

Saying something like "A SP must stay in the game long enough to face every starting batter once" is neither realistic, going to enhance the fan experience, nor going to change the use of the "opener".


The DH only lasts as long as the SP is in the game. Remove the SP, and the pitcher must bat.

We get the universal DH for the anti-pitcher hitting folks, more need for PH, so presumably more bench players and fewer RP on the roster, and a real advantage to using a real SP.
   19. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5823820)
So, if the starter gets shelled in the first, his team has to try to come back with the pitcher batting cleanup?
   20. Nasty Nate Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:32 PM (#5823824)
16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:05 PM (#5823812)

I saw Bon Jovi open for Ratt in 1985.

Trying to come up with a baseball analogy...Jack Morris and Mark Fidrych were teammates on the '78 and '79 Tigers. Not quite sure which year works best in terms of the relative career trajectories, but I think Morris opening for Fidrych is pretty accurate.
17. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:18 PM (#5823815)
Greg Maddux opening for Rick Sutcliffe in 1986.
I don't know how this fits an analogy, but Pedro Martinez relieved Orel Hershiser at least once during the 1993 season. And in 2008, Max Scherzer was the 2nd reliever into a game that Randy Johnson had started.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:32 PM (#5823825)
So, if the starter gets shelled in the first, his team has to try to come back with the pitcher batting cleanup?

That's why you carry more bench players. And don't bat the DH 4th.

Teams could no longer get by with a 3/4 man bench to try and cram an extra fungible RP on the roster. That's a feature not a bug.
   22. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:41 PM (#5823827)
I don't mind "the opener". (Or universal DH, all the time.)
That said, snapper's idea is one that should be discussed.
   23. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:51 PM (#5823830)
I don't know how this fits an analogy, but Pedro Martinez relieved Orel Hershiser at least once during the 1993 season. And in 2008, Max Scherzer was the 2nd reliever into a game that Randy Johnson had started.


Maddux made 4 relief appearances in his career. The pitchers he relieved were Dave Gumpert, Jay Baller, Drew Hall, and Rick Sutcliffe. In the Gumpert and Baller games, the starter was Jamie Moyer.
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5823833)
Greg Maddux opening for Rick Sutcliffe in 1986.
No, because Maddux went on to be one of the all-time greats. Morris is more analogous to Bon Jovi - very popular but highly overrated and not actually very good. Fidrych had his brief moment in the sun but fell off a cliff and was near done in 1978, much like Ratt, whereas Sutcliffe had much more career longevity and still had a couple good years ahead in 1986.
   25. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:59 PM (#5823834)
That said, snapper's idea is one that should be discussed.
Yeah, that does sound intriguing, at least on first impression.
   26. Nasty Nate Posted: March 19, 2019 at 04:01 PM (#5823835)
As far as I can tell, Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan never pitched for the Mets in the same game.

Edit: And this is probably already known by people, but Steve Carlton's MLB debut was in relief in a game Bob Gibson started.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2019 at 04:37 PM (#5823857)
That said, snapper's idea is one that should be discussed.

I stole it from somebody else here, but I can't remember who.
   28. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 19, 2019 at 04:38 PM (#5823858)
No, because Maddux went on to be one of the all-time greats. Morris is more analogous to Bon Jovi - very popular but highly overrated and not actually very good. Fidrych had his brief moment in the sun but fell off a cliff and was near done in 1978, much like Ratt, whereas Sutcliffe had much more career longevity and still had a couple good years ahead in 1986.


OK. I get it.
   29. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 19, 2019 at 04:39 PM (#5823859)
Edit: And this is probably already known by people, but Steve Carlton's MLB debut was in relief in a game Bob Gibson started.


Greg Maddux's debut was pinch running for Jody Davis.
   30. Greg Pope Posted: March 19, 2019 at 04:49 PM (#5823863)
That said, snapper's idea is one that should be discussed.

I stole it from somebody else here, but I can't remember who.

I don't remember seeing it before, but at first glance it's an excellent idea. The DH is only for the SP, nobody else. We still don't see pitchers hit, mostly. It makes the manager have to weigh leaving the starter in vs. having the DH the next half-inning batting, when that comes up. It encourages longer outings and eliminates the opener. I like it.
   31. BillWallace Posted: March 20, 2019 at 08:54 PM (#5824160)
Snapper for commish. That idea is neat.

Having identifiable starting pitchers that regularly pitch into the 7-9th innings, and pace of play (time between pitches primarily) are far and away the biggest factors that impact my enjoyment of watching baseball. No other issue is even close.
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: March 20, 2019 at 09:16 PM (#5824163)
It's interesting that the Rays didn't do this opener business with Blake Snell, their best pitcher. Not even once. Or with Tyler Glasnow, after he came over from the Pirates. It's as if they know it's not something you do with a "real" starting pitcher.


exactly, they are doing it to maximize their 4th and 5th starters, not their real starters. I don't think they hid what they were doing and why they were doing it, which is partially why I think their team bought into it... "you aren't Blake Snell, we need to protect you and make sure you do the best to help us win..." is not a bad argument...

I'm fine with teams doing this for the guys who aren't what I would call one's, twos or threes.... we've had discussion in the past about the league average on a number three or four, you are talking about a guy that is a league average 90 era+ pitcher.... at that point it makes perfect sense to maximize your performance....Your 100 era+ starters, you don't have a need to do this with.
   33. cardsfanboy Posted: March 20, 2019 at 09:20 PM (#5824164)
I'm not a fan of 'gimicky' rules, but I do support Snappers idea even though he claims he didn't come up with it... that sound like a pretty solid way to balance some of the game. As far as one of the objection about 'having your pitcher bat cleanup'... a modified rule could be that when you pull the starting pitcher, there is the option to re-align the lineup including the dh... so if your dh is capable of playing the field, your team can put him in the field and remove someone else with no penalty.....

it's an inelegant solution to the issue, but it works for me.
   34. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: March 20, 2019 at 09:20 PM (#5824165)
I am going to chime in with how much I love the Snapper* SP/DH linkage idea.

Awesome idea. I am trying to see a downside. Increases the importance of the starting pitcher and increases the strategy in baseball without being goofy.

* Or whoever.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: March 20, 2019 at 09:23 PM (#5824168)
Having identifiable starting pitchers that regularly pitch into the 7-9th innings, and pace of play (time between pitches primarily) are far and away the biggest factors that impact my enjoyment of watching baseball. No other issue is even close.


The problem is that has never really been the case beyond the top two or so of the opposing team, and the number three and four of the team you have chosen to follow... I mean seriously can you name who was the number three starter in the years for Arizona when Randy and Schilling were kicking ass?
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 20, 2019 at 09:32 PM (#5824173)
As far as one of the objection about 'having your pitcher bat cleanup'... a modified rule could be that when you pull the starting pitcher, there is the option to re-align the lineup including the dh... so if your dh is capable of playing the field, your team can put him in the field and remove someone else with no penalty.....

That is just the current rule. You can move your DH to the field, but you lose the DH. So, if you double switch when when you replace the SP, I think it's fine if the DH stays in the game. He just has to field.
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2019 at 09:59 PM (#5824175)
I wonder if it would make the most sense just to bat the DH leadoff. Over the course of the season, it would maximize his PAs.

And count me among the supporters of the idea.
   38. PreservedFish Posted: March 20, 2019 at 10:01 PM (#5824176)
I mean seriously can you name who was the number three starter in the years for Arizona when Randy and Schilling were kicking ass?


Omar Daal? Miguel Batista? Armando Reynoso?
   39. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2019 at 10:22 PM (#5824178)
Miguel Batista was the No. 3 when they won the World Series, though Bob Brenly gave the Game 3 WS start to Brian Anderson because he liked a lefthander throwing in YS. So Batista started Game 5 in the same ballpark, then came back on short rest out of the pen in Game 7. Anderson didn't pitch again.

   40. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 21, 2019 at 09:15 AM (#5824212)
I wonder if it would make the most sense just to bat the DH leadoff. Over the course of the season, it would maximize his PAs.

I think it very much depends. Lots of teams don't have a particularly good hitting DH.
   41. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 21, 2019 at 09:18 AM (#5824213)
I am going to chime in with how much I love the Snapper* SP/DH linkage idea.


I think Misirlou's objection was kind of silly, but it's important to realize that this would vastly reduce the importance of the DH. You wouldn't want to put a hitter like David Ortiz in that slot, knowing you would rarely be able to use him after the sixth inning. Or maybe teams would leave starters out there longer to get one last at-bat out of Ortiz.

I'm not saying that's good or bad, just that it's a thing to consider.
   42. SoSH U at work Posted: March 21, 2019 at 09:35 AM (#5824214)
I think it very much depends. Lots of teams don't have a particularly good hitting DH.


That's true. And, obviously, they would be even less likely to use one of their best hitters in that role if he's only guaranteed one AB per game.

   43. . Posted: March 21, 2019 at 10:21 AM (#5824223)
I think Misirlou's objection was kind of silly, but it's important to realize that this would vastly reduce the importance of the DH.


Feature, not bug.

Snapper's idea is excellent. As good or better would be ending the rule that says taking the starting pitcher out of the game means you can't bring him back in. If they're just going to go 5-6 innings anyway, there's no inherent reason they should be innings 1-5 or 6.
   44. . Posted: March 21, 2019 at 10:26 AM (#5824224)
First two games 3:24 and 4:27, with caveat that today's went 25% more innings. Bunch of mid-innings pitching changes, total of something like 30 pitchers used.

Still really early, but no indication whatever of any kind of culture change in response to the pitch clock, etc. ideas.

Essentially unwatchable.
   45. Cris E Posted: March 21, 2019 at 10:44 AM (#5824229)
I think Misirlou's objection was kind of silly, but it's important to realize that this would vastly reduce the importance of the DH. You wouldn't want to put a hitter like David Ortiz in that slot, knowing you would rarely be able to use him after the sixth inning. Or maybe teams would leave starters out there longer to get one last at-bat out of Ortiz.

Well you'd let Ortiz and his horrible glove DH as long as possible, and only when the SP comes out determine if you need the starting 1B glove or the Ortiz bat in the game more. If you're close or behind stick him on the field for the last inning or three to catch up, or let the good glove man stay out there to finish up. There's a decision point that adds a bit of complexity, not wipes it away.

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