Openers?

Plympton91

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Oct 19, 2008
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artificial constraints like that lead to pinning the fielders into place before a pitch is thrown and limiting tosses to the bases. Such a slippery slope.

How about the opponents adapt to the moves like they have in the first 100+ years of baseball?
I think this is different from the shifts arguments. The analytics appear to support the idea that having pitchers go short stints, one or two times around the order limits offense. So, early adopters of that strategy will benefit. Eventually, though, everyone will do it, limiting the competitive advantage of the strategy (of course teams that execute better will still do better).

So, once we reach the new equilibrium where everyone is doing the same thing, do we have a better game or a worse game? I’d argue worse, both from an on field standpoint and a marketing standpoint. Do the on field first—more pitching changes, fewer runs=booorrrriiinnngggg. Off-field—turn another 20% of the baseball playing population into faceless interchangeable non entities who fans don’t care about and can’t be marketed.

It’s horrible for the game, even if the 2020 Red Sox might still be a little on the leading edge and maybe win a couple extra games. That will be fleeting. The contribution to further erosion of general interest in baseball will be permanent.
 

YTF

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I think this is different from the shifts arguments. The analytics appear to support the idea that having pitchers go short stints, one or two times around the order limits offense. So, early adopters of that strategy will benefit. Eventually, though, everyone will do it, limiting the competitive advantage of the strategy (of course teams that execute better will still do better).

So, once we reach the new equilibrium where everyone is doing the same thing, do we have a better game or a worse game? I’d argue worse, both from an on field standpoint and a marketing standpoint. Do the on field first—more pitching changes, fewer runs=booorrrriiinnngggg. Off-field—turn another 20% of the baseball playing population into faceless interchangeable non entities who fans don’t care about and can’t be marketed.

It’s horrible for the game, even if the 2020 Red Sox might still be a little on the leading edge and maybe win a couple extra games. That will be fleeting. The contribution to further erosion of general interest in baseball will be permanent.
Presently most teams ARE doing the same thing. They try not let their starters go more than 100 pitches while hoping they can get at least 5 innings out of them. Most teams try to build their bullpens with a defined set up guy and closer and ideally a 7th inning guy as well. As for fewer runs isn't that the job of the pitching staff? Don't people often say it would be nice if we (meaning any team) didn't have to consistently count on out slugging the other team to win?
 
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JimD

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So, once we reach the new equilibrium where everyone is doing the same thing, do we have a better game or a worse game? I’d argue worse, both from an on field standpoint and a marketing standpoint. Do the on field first—more pitching changes, fewer runs=booorrrriiinnngggg. Off-field—turn another 20% of the baseball playing population into faceless interchangeable non entities who fans don’t care about and can’t be marketed.

It’s horrible for the game, even if the 2020 Red Sox might still be a little on the leading edge and maybe win a couple extra games. That will be fleeting. The contribution to further erosion of general interest in baseball will be permanent.
Winning teams are 'marketable'. If they win thanks to a dominant rotation, great. But if they win because they're a group of good to very good players who achieve more as a team than the sum of their parts would otherwise predict, then that's fun too. If teams have the horses in the rotation, then they will certainly use the traditional starting pitching model as much as possible. If one of the guys at the end of the Sox rotation has a good spring and then shows that he can successfully hold his own with starts of five-plus innings in April games, do you think Chaim Bloom is going to step in and stop it because he's wedded to the opener concept?
 

chawson

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I think this is different from the shifts arguments. The analytics appear to support the idea that having pitchers go short stints, one or two times around the order limits offense. So, early adopters of that strategy will benefit. Eventually, though, everyone will do it, limiting the competitive advantage of the strategy (of course teams that execute better will still do better).
The rise of the opener is about a competitive advantage, but it’s not an idea born purely from strategy.

It seems also to be a response to the leaguewide increase in pitcher injuries. I don’t have the IL-by-year figures in front of me, but the number of days pitchers have spent on the injured list has increased every year — at least until a couple years ago when I last remember checking. So it’s cost-effective, or risk-averse, for teams to avoid putting all their eggs (innings) in one basket (conventional starters).

The other piece connected to that, I think, is pitch specialization. A number of factors — like advanced international scouting and player development, and the free agent salary compression brought on by the harsh competitive balance taxes — have increased the pool of capable pitchers who are controllable and freely available to MLB teams. It’s much more possible for teams to “churn” these pitchers through their minor league shuttles now. When a team has access to a strong supply of these kind of pitchers, their value is derived less from their total repertoires and more from one or two specialized pitches, which the team can deploy more strategically for an inning or two (while keeping salaries low). Teams are deploying their resources for more system depth not necessarily of well rounded relievers — who are expensive but risky — but of guys with one or two very good pitches. They have in-house replacements for the pitchers who burn out.
 

Plympton91

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I agree with pretty much everything Chawson and JimD wrote in response to me. I’m not arguing that it is a bad outcome for the teams in terms of maximizing wins and saving money on salaries at all.

I would say to JimD that yes, based on the numbers presented earlier in the thread, you should use an open even if you’ve got a pitcher who canconsistently give you 5+ innings. Seems to me that using the open is optimal unless you’ve got a full fledged Cy Young caliber horse.

And that’s the problem. How does having all teams using this strategy improve the flow of the game? The game flow would be much better the old way, but coordination failure dictates otherwise. How many potential horses are going to be stunted by this framework? Either because they can be brought up earlier and turned into a two-pitch opener, or because they get pigeonholed into a “connector” slot rather than being allowed to fully develop? That goes to the lack of marketability. The next Clayton Kershaw may just end up being a 120 inning long guy instead of a superstar.
 

rymflaherty

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It depends, who are the pitchers that are going to be piggy backing off of the “openers”?

To me that’s the biggest question as to whether this is wise, or is likely to be a successful strategy. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I recall (more often than not) anytime the Rays has an opener, there was a designated pitcher following the opener that they expected 3-5 innings from, so it wasn’t just a traditional bullpen game.
When I hear “opener” my word association isn’t even bullpen - to me, it seems like a way to maximize (or hide) young pitchers who’s innings you’re trying to limit, quality long relievers and/or marginal starters you only trust twice through the order (at most).

Considering the options for traditional starters, I can see why the team may explore that route - maybe start a righty then deploy Perez for 4 or so innings, possibly a Weber or Hernandez in the piggy back spot, I doubt they’d ever do it but that sort of role could be perfect for Eovaldi...either way, I believe it’s having guys that make sense in that long relief role that is the most important part of this equation and what will determine if it is an optimal strategy or not.
 

brs3

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Isn't the long reliever/'mop up' guy mostly a non-existent thing these days? Perhaps the Rays are bringing it back, but also wouldn't a 'mop up' guy be a guy who gets lit up but is needed to throw innings in a lopsided loss?

Essentially a modern day Ramiro Mendoza or Rich Garces is needed to back up the opener.
 

allmanbro

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Isn't the long reliever/'mop up' guy mostly a non-existent thing these days? Perhaps the Rays are bringing it back, but also wouldn't a 'mop up' guy be a guy who gets lit up but is needed to throw innings in a lopsided loss?

Essentially a modern day Ramiro Mendoza or Rich Garces is needed to back up the opener.
Presumably your bulk relievers would be guys that would otherwise be #4/5 SPs, but for some reason (matchups, limited stamina, limited repertoire) benefit from skipping the heart of the lineup. All you need is "more effective than the rotation slot you are replacing would otherwise be."

And that’s the problem. How does having all teams using this strategy improve the flow of the game? The game flow would be much better the old way, but coordination failure dictates otherwise. How many potential horses are going to be stunted by this framework? Either because they can be brought up earlier and turned into a two-pitch opener, or because they get pigeonholed into a “connector” slot rather than being allowed to fully develop? That goes to the lack of marketability. The next Clayton Kershaw may just end up being a 120 inning long guy instead of a superstar.
I think there is now a currently bigger risk of wasted potential than their would be if openers catch on. Basically, as things stand the vast majority of any team's innings are going to two types of pitchers: starters and one-inning relievers. Adding bulk guys makes a third role. Players who might otherwise thrive in this role are lost if they are forced to either try to start or try to dominate of a single inning. Now, those players have a shot. Teams will work to make sure they get the most value they can from their players, so a bulk reliever showing the skills to start, or otherwise take on more innings, will get the change (on a reasonably well-run team, anyway). Top prospects will be treated as starters, and the bulk role might extend some careers and allow late career breakouts.
 

Over Guapo Grande

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You seem to be operating from the premise that an opener means slowing down the game. That more pitching changes will occur... but that is only relevant if it occurs mid-inning, no? If the change happens on a fresh slate, that has no impact on the pace of play. Silly question, I know... but do you have any links supporting your premise that the opener slows down the pace of play? Sorry- I quoted the wrong quote. I meant this one:


I think this is different from the shifts arguments. The analytics appear to support the idea that having pitchers go short stints, one or two times around the order limits offense. So, early adopters of that strategy will benefit. Eventually, though, everyone will do it, limiting the competitive advantage of the strategy (of course teams that execute better will still do better).

So, once we reach the new equilibrium where everyone is doing the same thing, do we have a better game or a worse game? I’d argue worse, both from an on field standpoint and a marketing standpoint. Do the on field first—more pitching changes, fewer runs=booorrrriiinnngggg. Off-field—turn another 20% of the baseball playing population into faceless interchangeable non entities who fans don’t care about and can’t be marketed.
 

Plympton91

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You seem to be operating from the premise that an opener means slowing down the game. That more pitching changes will occur... but that is only relevant if it occurs mid-inning, no? If the change happens on a fresh slate, that has no impact on the pace of play. Silly question, I know... but do you have any links supporting your premise that the opener slows down the pace of play? Sorry- I quoted the wrong quote. I meant this one:
Even if it’s not adding time, it’s still not a good flow. It’s not like you’re just trading a relief pitcher in the first for a relief pitcher in the 7th. You’re getting an additional pitching change that day. I don’t know, maybe I’m just fullly into “Get off my lawn” mode, but strat-o-matic baseball is supposed to be a board game, not real life. I don’t enjoy it. Clearly, all those fans dressed as empty seats around the league feel the same way.
 

williams_482

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Even if it’s not adding time, it’s still not a good flow. It’s not like you’re just trading a relief pitcher in the first for a relief pitcher in the 7th. You’re getting an additional pitching change that day. I don’t know, maybe I’m just fullly into “Get off my lawn” mode, but strat-o-matic baseball is supposed to be a board game, not real life. I don’t enjoy it. Clearly, all those fans dressed as empty seats around the league feel the same way.
I seriously doubt the reduced attendance has much to do with the proliferation of lesser known middle relievers and an increase in pitching changes. There are a bevy of other reasons one could offer up to explain that, none of which are really on topic here.

That said, I'm sympathetic to your position that more and more no-name middle relievers is not great for the sport as a spectator experience. Ben Lindbergh made that case pretty well a few years back, focusing primarily on the eventual disappearance of the starting pitchers as "protagonists" for the game.

It is worth noting that the opener + bulk guy setup doesn't really change the dynamic that much as far as how innings are distributed, only the order in which they occur. We aren't likely to see notably more pitching changes as a result of adopting this strategy for one or two rotation slots.
 

Plympton91

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.

It is worth noting that the opener + bulk guy setup doesn't really change the dynamic that much as far as how innings are distributed, only the order in which they occur. We aren't likely to see notably more pitching changes as a result of adopting this strategy for one or two rotation slots.
In 14 games as a starter last season, Ryan Yarborough pitched 85 innings. In 14 games as the “bulk guy” he pitched 56 innings. His record was 8-1 in those bulk games. The opener isn’t just swapping a reliever in the 7th for a reliever in the 1st. It is a modified bullpen game in which more pitchers are used.

This makes sense. If a team has their 7th, 8th, 9th inning guys lined up and a lead after 6 innings, they’re going to use them in that role. They’re going to use them whether it’s a starter who has gone 6, or a bulk guy who’s gone 4-1/3 at that point.

it got the Rays wins. I expect other teams are emulating it because it worked. When all teams emulate it, the comparative benefit of using it will dwindle. But, it’ll still “work” at suppressing runs, so it’ll remain the norm, so we’ll be left in an inferior equilibrium anyway.

The way to avoid coordination failure is with regulation. Hence, my two suggestions. 1) Can’t remove the starting pitcher unless they’ve thrown 60 pitches or given up 2 or more runs; 2) starting pitcher cannot appear in the first 9 innings of any game for at least 3 subsequent days.
 

Le Bastonois

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Didn't the closer extend the usefulness of pitchers that would have been otherwise, put out to pasture (NL), e.g. Dennis Eckersley? Or didn't the closer create an otherwise mediocre, 2-pitch starter into a closing stud, e.g. Mariano Rivera?

Won't the (re)adaptation of the opener open the door for niche pitchers who would otherwise get shelled after the first time through the order, and would otherwise end up gym teachers and real estate agents?

There must have been baseball fans throughout time saying Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan ruined the game with the closer because Walter Johnson, Lefty Gomez, Christy Mathewson, Whitey Ford, and Sandy Koufax didn't need any G.D. closer! Or when Casey Stengal used his old manager's system (McGraw) of platooning batters with reverse splits?

Baseball is a living organism subject to convergent evolution, just like all living things.
 

Plympton91

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Do you think the analytics would ever be such that a team would use an in their prime Rivera, Papelbon, Eckersley, or Kimbrel as an opener, rather than a closer?

Do you think a team would ever use the same opener 3 days in a row in a key series, the way the closer pitches every day during a winning streak?

Can you imagine an opener engaging in the same type of fun, highlight-worthy antics because they got 3 outs in the first inning as Eckersley and Rodney did when they closed out big games?

I mean, have you guys all seen George Carlin’s famous baseball vs football skit? The “closer,” (loud, hard-edge voice), and “opener,” (wispy, light-hearted voice), could be a baseball-only addendum to that classic.
 

YTF

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Do you think the analytics would ever be such that a team would use an in their prime Rivera, Papelbon, Eckersley, or Kimbrel as an opener, rather than a closer?

Do you think a team would ever use the same opener 3 days in a row in a key series, the way the closer pitches every day during a winning streak?

Can you imagine an opener engaging in the same type of fun, highlight-worthy antics because they got 3 outs in the first inning as Eckersley and Rodney did when they closed out big games?

I mean, have you guys all seen George Carlin’s famous baseball vs football skit? The “closer,” (loud, hard-edge voice), and “opener,” (wispy, light-hearted voice), could be a baseball-only addendum to that classic.
In their prime? As in already established in what they do with the level of success they've had and then change things? Of course not. If they were young pitchers today and that sort of role was available and they were seen as having value in filling it, yeah sure and it's likely they might eventually be seen as having greater value later in the game. It's possible that they could revert to that late in their careers AFTER their peak years are behind them and another closer develops. Is it really all that different than some guys kicking around for a couple years as a middle reliever before and/or after hitting his stride?
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Do you think the analytics would ever be such that a team would use an in their prime Rivera, Papelbon, Eckersley, or Kimbrel as an opener, rather than a closer?
It's probably a tricky thing to tease out of the numbers. On the one hand, the one thing you always know about the beginning of the game is that the most difficult hitters to get out will be coming up. OTOH, the one thing you always know about a closer situation is that the value of outs is at its highest. All things being equal, you'd choose your best pitcher for the role that always involves facing the toughest hitters. But all things aren't equal, and while you'd rather have your best pitcher facing Ronald Acuna than Tyler Flowers, you'd also much rather have him facing Acuna in the 9th with a one-run lead than in the first with no score. The question is, how likely is the latter scenario and is that likelihood * that leverage >/= the certainty of facing him in the first * much lower leverage? That sounds like a complicated thing to calculate (I mean complicated for someone like me, using back-of-napkin methodology--I'm sure the systems teams use would eat a question like that for breakfast).

EDIT: We also know that certainty and regularity of role matters more to some pitchers than others. For pitchers that it matters a lot to, the opener role might be a better fit because you know ahead of time when you'll be doing it and you can prepare much as a starter would.
 
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If you go back in time, you find that starters frequently accounted for a high percentage of teams' saves. For example, starters for the Indians had 7 of the team's 12 saves in 1936 (Bob Feller's first season), 10 of 15 in 1937, 8 of 13 in 1939, 14 of 22 in 1940, 9 of 19 in 1951, 11 of 18 in 1952 (Next to lat season in Feller's career). Allie Reynolds started 29 games for the Yankees in 1952, yet still had 6 of the team's 27 saves. Walter Johnson (417 wins from 1907 through 1927) led his team in saves four times and tied for the lead four times (beginning in 1923, the Senators had an actual closer).
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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If you go back in time, you find that starters frequently accounted for a high percentage of teams' saves. For example, starters for the Indians had 7 of the team's 12 saves in 1936 (Bob Feller's first season), 10 of 15 in 1937, 8 of 13 in 1939, 14 of 22 in 1940, 9 of 19 in 1951, 11 of 18 in 1952 (Next to lat season in Feller's career). Allie Reynolds started 29 games for the Yankees in 1952, yet still had 6 of the team's 27 saves. Walter Johnson (417 wins from 1907 through 1927) led his team in saves four times and tied for the lead four times (beginning in 1923, the Senators had an actual closer).
I'm not sure how instructive those stats are considering none of those teams were aware of the stat in the first place (it was invented in 1959 and became an officially counted stat in 1969). Pitchers of that era were used until their arms fell off and staffs in general were small (8-9 pitchers). So it shouldn't be surprising that the ones viewed as the best pitchers on the team (the top starters) would see some relief action in close and important games and thus rack up what would later be classified as a save.
 

effectivelywild

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In 14 games as a starter last season, Ryan Yarborough pitched 85 innings. In 14 games as the “bulk guy” he pitched 56 innings. His record was 8-1 in those bulk games. The opener isn’t just swapping a reliever in the 7th for a reliever in the 1st. It is a modified bullpen game in which more pitchers are used.

This makes sense. If a team has their 7th, 8th, 9th inning guys lined up and a lead after 6 innings, they’re going to use them in that role. They’re going to use them whether it’s a starter who has gone 6, or a bulk guy who’s gone 4-1/3 at that point.

it got the Rays wins. I expect other teams are emulating it because it worked. When all teams emulate it, the comparative benefit of using it will dwindle. But, it’ll still “work” at suppressing runs, so it’ll remain the norm, so we’ll be left in an inferior equilibrium anyway.

The way to avoid coordination failure is with regulation. Hence, my two suggestions. 1) Can’t remove the starting pitcher unless they’ve thrown 60 pitches or given up 2 or more runs; 2) starting pitcher cannot appear in the first 9 innings of any game for at least 3 subsequent days.

I'm wary of any approach that involves creating more rules about how and when players can be used. I understand the 3-batter minimum rule---its ostensibly for pace of play---but your proposal seems to be more about trying to maintain the importance of "starting pitchers." I don't think true starters will ever go away, because as you mention in your first sentence, games with an "opener" and bulk reliever still wind up using more pitchers. So you can't go to that well too often or you'll just burn out your staff (unless you can somehow find a bunch of effective four inning guys). You might be able to fill, what, two rotation spots with this concept? So what the opener/bulk guy is replacing is a back of the rotation starter who likely gets shelled more often than not---because if he was better, you wouldn't need to turn to the opener concept. I don't know how necessary rule changes are to protect the unreliable starters---the Andrew Cashners of the world---in the name of game preservation. And frankly, I bet if you told Cashner "hey, you can either be a marginal starter who gets shelled or you can come in as a bulk guy and be effective and help your team win," he'd be interested in the latter.
 

joe dokes

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And frankly, I bet if you told Cashner "hey, you can either be a marginal starter who gets shelled or you can come in as a bulk guy and be effective and help your team win," he'd be interested in the latter.
That could depend on money. For quite awhile, no one wanted to be a not-closer reliever because even though they were often better, higher-leverage pitchers than the "closer," only starters and "closers" got paid.
 

effectivelywild

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That could depend on money. For quite awhile, no one wanted to be a not-closer reliever because even though they were often better, higher-leverage pitchers than the "closer," only starters and "closers" got paid.
Agree, though Cashner still is a FA and apparently is already being marketed as a "reliever" as he looks for someone to sign him. If you have to choose between signing a minor league deal to start and by depth in case a regular starter gets injured vs. a major league deal to be a bulk guy, its not straightforward.
 

Plympton91

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I'm wary of any approach that involves creating more rules about how and when players can be used. I understand the 3-batter minimum rule---its ostensibly for pace of play---but your proposal seems to be more about trying to maintain the importance of "starting pitchers." I don't think true starters will ever go away, because as you mention in your first sentence, games with an "opener" and bulk reliever still wind up using more pitchers. So you can't go to that well too often or you'll just burn out your staff (unless you can somehow find a bunch of effective four inning guys). You might be able to fill, what, two rotation spots with this concept? So what the opener/bulk guy is replacing is a back of the rotation starter who likely gets shelled more often than not---because if he was better, you wouldn't need to turn to the opener concept. I don't know how necessary rule changes are to protect the unreliable starters---the Andrew Cashners of the world---in the name of game preservation. And frankly, I bet if you told Cashner "hey, you can either be a marginal starter who gets shelled or you can come in as a bulk guy and be effective and help your team win," he'd be interested in the latter.
My point is that the last part of your post is only true until we get to the point that everybody does it. If one team is pairing Ryan Braiser with Andrew Cashner against another team pairing Andrew Kittredge and Jalen Beeks, then has either team’s win probability really changed from just starting Cashner and Beeks?

All you’ve done is add an extra pitching change, and reduce offense, ceteris paribus. How is that a better game for the fans?
 

YTF

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My point is that the last part of your post is only true until we get to the point that everybody does it. If one team is pairing Ryan Braiser with Andrew Cashner against another team pairing Andrew Kittredge and Jalen Beeks, then has either team’s win probability really changed from just starting Cashner and Beeks?

All you’ve done is add an extra pitching change,
and reduce offense, ceteris paribus. How is that a better game for the fans?
Out of curiosity how deep are you expecting either of those pitchers to go? Five solid innings out of either of those two would be more than either team would expect. IMO opinion you're not adding another pitching change, your just changing the point in the game where you make it. As for the point you have made a couple of times now about reduced offense, I don't get it. It's not as though MLB is lacking for offense.
 

JimD

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Sean McAdam had an update in his Wednesday notes piece:

The Sox have four rotation spots spoken for with Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Martin Perez claiming the first four. The fifth spot could go to a number of different candidates from holdovers (Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez) or newcomers (Chris Mazza, Matt Hall, Austin Brice).

Or, as Ron Roenicke suggested Tuesday, the Red Sox could take a mix-and-match approach to the spot by using two pitchers to divide up the innings.

“We have this group of guys who are fighting for this one job — the fifth starter,” Roenicke told reporters. “And they’ll fight that out. But if we find out that it’s just better to piggyback two guys, maybe that’s what we do. We’re still kind of looking at what we have and how it plays out.”

Around the game, teams are exploring different ways to fill starting spots. The New York Mets, for example, are considering identifying a number of back-end starters and then using matchups to determine who pitches against certain opponents.

There’s still a month left to evaluate the candidates for the fifth spot, but it’s clear the Sox are keeping their options available.
 

GoDa

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I don't really see a big issue with just letting things work out naturally.

I'd think there is still an advantage to having good+ starters that can pitch 180+ IP and do it on a consistent basis. I've always thought that the notion of the "innings eating" 4th or 5th starter was mostly silly - unless he just happens to be an overall more effective pitcher than most of your relievers. Using openers does limit a manager's flexibility in choosing situational relievers - over the course of a season. Whether or not that really impacts results - I doubt it does much.
 

streeter88

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"“I’m hoping we find a fourth and fifth guy,” Roenicke said. “And if we don’t, that’s fine. We’ll just go to the next step and maybe we have an opener.”"

So the new manager has no idea how the Opener concept works, and the new President of Baseball Ops is going to teach him. OK, that’s.... terrifying.

If the Sox win the AL East, Roenicke has to win AL Manager of the Year.
 

YTF

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So the new manager has no idea how the Opener concept works, and the new President of Baseball Ops is going to teach him. OK, that’s.... terrifying.

If the Sox win the AL East, Roenicke has to win AL Manager of the Year.
Over react much? A manager with the same exposure to the concept as most other managers will be learning from one of the architects of it. Why is that terrifying?
 

streeter88

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Over react much? A manager with the same exposure to the concept as most other managers will be learning from one of the architects of it. Why is that terrifying?
Hyperbole - but yes, the opener concept is far from proven / established, so it may take some doing to master it. And I think the New England fan base may be a bit less forgiving than - say - Tampa St Pete.

My main point was that Roenicke - if he does it well and the Red Sox do actually pull off the upset and take the division - will be a well deserving AL Manager of the Year.
 

jon abbey

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It's not rocket science, I mostly don't get what the big deal is, it's just moving one of the late game relievers to the front of the line ahead of a SP you do not trust but have no better options. If your bulk innings guy gets hammered, you are scrambling but you are scrambling just as much if your SP gets knocked out early, you have one less option but you are 1-2 innings deeper in already. If your opener gets hit, it can get really ugly, but still just counts as one loss. Last August the generally reliable Chad Green gave up 5 runs in 1/3 of an inning to start an Indians game that ended up 19-5 CLE but NY went 11-4 on the season in games Green opened even with that beatdown.
 

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It's not rocket science, I mostly don't get what the big deal is, it's just moving one of the late game relievers to the front of the line ahead of a SP you do not trust but have no better options. If your bulk innings guy gets hammered, you are scrambling but you are scrambling just as much if your SP gets knocked out early, you have one less option but you are 1-2 innings deeper in already. If your opener gets hit, it can get really ugly, but still just counts as one loss. Last August the generally reliable Chad Green gave up 5 runs in 1/3 of an inning to start an Indians game that ended up 19-5 CLE but NY went 11-4 on the season in games Green opened even with that beatdown.
Agree with all of this. Using openers isn't that complicated. I imagine the "seminar" that Bloom gave the coaching staff consisted of him explaining why he chose the pitchers he chose to keep/acquire this winter, and the roles he envisioned for those pitchers. Once he's done that, it's up to Roenicke to execute the operation without Bloom looking over his shoulder or consulting on a day-to-day basis. As long as Roenicke's open to the idea, and he sounds like he is, he'll do fine with it. Contrast that to the closer by committee experiment back in 2003 when I don't think Little was either open to the idea or capable of grasping the strategy of how to execute it, so it failed nearly instantly and was abandoned. I'm more optimistic about Roenicke.
 

joe dokes

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
15,522
Hyperbole - but yes, the opener concept is far from proven / established, so it may take some doing to master it. And I think the New England fan base may be a bit less forgiving than - say - Tampa St Pete.

My main point was that Roenicke - if he does it well and the Red Sox do actually pull off the upset and take the division - will be a well deserving AL Manager of the Year.
The first nanomicromillisecond that Roenicke gives a nanomicromillishit about the "forgivingness of the New England fan base" should be followed immediately by his firing.