One time David Letterman had a Top 10 list of Reasons To Acquit O.J. ... like Johnny Cochrane's silly "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," all of Letterman's reasons ryhmed. One of them was something like "If you look at Fuhrman, it'll / make you vote for an acquit'tl."
Heh. In baseball, each year there's a major new strategy taking root -- shifting, or launch angle, or whatever. This year, it's the "opener." Madison Bumgarner was asked about the opener and responded something like "Try to give somebody else my first / right out of the park we'll be disbursed." Way to put team first, Mad Bum. Glad Kyle Seager didn't moonwalk off the field the first time he was asked to move over to RF.
BaseballHQ opens its discussions of "Openers" by asking you to compare pitchers A and B, one with an ERA of 2.71 and all the peripherals and another with an ERA of 5.80 and asking the incisive question, "Which would you rather have?" Thath high-quality writin', son. But HQ rallied from its inane question with "A has #2 SP skills and B will be lucky not to be sent to the minors."
A and B were the same pitcher, of course, column A the stats from his first 2 times through the lineup and column B his third time through. (Jake Odorizzi.) They go on to offer tons of evidence that industrywide, the third trip is a toughie. ... Well, Dr. D was used to Craig Wright's Rule of 28 but it hadn't really occurred to extend this to a Rule of 19.
Admittedly, it had occurred to Tony Larussa, who tried to get buy-in for a 3-3-3 innings system once but couldn't make the battle work against the resistance of the sportswriters and pitchers. Whatever is new is bad, or that's the way it was 10 years ago. Nowadays "old is good" has lost a lot of its audience.
In the ideal world, an "Opener" who pitches just the first inning will give your starter (or, "Bulk Pitcher") the platoon advantage. If the opposing manager stacks lefties against a scheduled "starter" of Hunter Strickland, then when you bring in Yusei Kikuchi he's in some pretty deep-n-yuck.
But as HQ also points out, you don't need a single hitter's worth of platoon advantage to make the Opener work. Last year on May 19, the Rays started their best* pitcher at the time, closer Sergio Romo, against the LA Angels. The first IP is obviously the highest-scoring anyway, it being the only one with the lineup set the way you want it. But especially against the Angels, the 1-2-3 hitters are RHB's Cozart, Trout, and Upton.
As a group that is a monstrous Big Three (admittedly, Trout, Dr. D and SABRMatt would be a monstrous Big Three). But Romo has a K% of nearly 30% against RHB and he mowed them down --
-- Leaving "Bulk Pitcher" Ryan Yarborough with a zero on the scoreboard for the 2nd inning and a far easier 2.5 times through the lineup to navigate.
I can't find the specific website right now -- here is one similar -- but using an "Opener" the Rays' ERA went wayyyyy down and their W-L went wayyyyyy up. Minnesota and Oakland also started using Openers, and Minny uses them up-and-down the minor league system.
If you're smart -- and having hit this bookmark you necessarily are -- you don't need another word to convince you of anything. "Opening" will be the way things are done in 50 years, and when there is a Technological Imperative, the only question is whether you wanna be smart & early, or dumb & late. There was a time when relief pitchers, at the other end of the 9 innings, were unpopular too.
If you used HAL-9000 to run pitching matchups, I'm sure we'd see something verrrrrry sophisticated every series. But it wouldn't be a 5-man rotation the way we're used to it now.
Jonez put a guest article in the "Home" subdomain. Look there for it or here's the direct link: https://seattlesportsinsider.com/?q=blogs/leaders-vs-exemplars#comment-1...