Not absolutely sure I understand exactly what Tampa's doing with their "Openers" strategy. On Thursday, they had a 97-98 mph almost Mariner take the first inning and use 30 pitches to post a zero. Their idea was for the 5' 10" righty Austin Pruitt to then have an easier time facing the top half of the M's lineup twice and the bottom half three times. Actually he faced 28 batters, coughing up runs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th but holding the line for the 6th, 7th and 8th.
The strategy sounds wonderful to Dr. D -- provided it's Nicasio in Houston in front of Wade LeBlanc. Sounds like a great way to take pressure off an almost-good-enough SP, particularly where you flip the platoon advantage.
Is Tampa going to do this 100% of the time or 70% of the time or what?
In the 80's, the idea was sometimes used in the playoffs to give a platoon edge. These days, the lineups are set, with the 8-man bullpens. So the big edge is to sidestep the first 4-5 hitters for your BOR starter. Krueger hated it; the Mainframe finds the whole construction fascinating. Provided, naturally, that you have two closers and somebody else you like for the first.
Why stop there? Have the guy go max-effort for one inning, but if he gets an 8-pitch first? Why not let him go 2, 3? The NFL and NBA have gotten more sophisticated, not less. It's only baseball that has a deity complex, that it was born a Greek marble statue.
- PAXTON - Of course not
- MARC-O - I like him too much, want to get him into rhythm
- LEAKE - He's OBVIOUSLY a starter's rhythm guy
- WADE LeBLANC - is there a better candidate in baseball?
- FELIX - What were they saying that guy's 1 IP ERA was, 16.00 or something
Funny what the M's starters' pro-rated records are.
- Paxton - 15-3, 2.95 (Reminds me of Don Gullett and the Big Red Machine)
- Marc-O - 16-8, 3.38
- Leake - 16-8, 4.45
- Felix - 16-11, 5.33
- Wade LeBlanc - 3-0, 2.94
The Mariners' 2001 team had SP's totalling 20, 18, 17, 15, and 10 wins.
Right now the M's pitchers are running a 107 ERA+ and their hitters a 105 OPS+. We mentioned it at D-O-V; the Cano Mariners were 22-17 and they are 16-6 since. You might have noticed the nightly commentary on the M's celery-crisp defense; over the last 30 days, their pitching is #6 among 30 MLB teams for WAR and #7 for FIP.
They've replaced a learning-on-the-job Dee Gordon with Guillermo Heredia, perhaps a textbook definition of clinical CF play.
They've brought in Denard Span (with Gamel) to play LF.
They've brought in a cat-quick, Gold Glove 2B to tighten the infield defense.
It's amazing sometimes, the pyschological effect that great defense has on a fairly-good team. Seems to me it's been a "tipping point" for the 2018 M's.
One day in late summer, an old farmer was working in his field with his old sick horse. The farmer felt compassion for the horse and desired to lift its burden. So he left his horse loose to go the mountains and live out the rest of its life.
Soon after, neighbors from the nearby village visited, offering their condolences and said, "What a shame. Now your only horse is gone. How unfortunate you are!. You must be very sad. How will you live, work the land, and prosper?" The farmer replied: "Who knows? We shall see".
Two days later the old horse came back now rejuvenated after meandering in the mountainsides while eating the wild grasses. He came back with twelve new younger and healthy horses which followed the old horse into the corral.
Word got out in the village of the old farmer's good fortune and it wasn't long before people stopped by to congratulate the farmer on his good luck. "How fortunate you are!" they exclaimed. You must be very happy!" Again, the farmer softly said, "Who knows? We shall see."
At daybreak on the next morning, the farmer's only son set off to attempt to train the new wild horses, but the farmer's son was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. One by one villagers arrived during the day to bemoan the farmer's latest misfortune. "Oh, what a tragedy! Your son won't be able to help you farm with a broken leg. You'll have to do all the work yourself, How will you survive? You must be very sad". they said. Calmly going about his usual business the farmer answered, "Who knows? We shall see"
Several days later a war broke out. The Emperor's men arrived in the village demanding that young men come with them to be conscripted into the Emperor's army. As it happened the farmer's son was deemed unfit because of his broken leg. "What very good fortune you have!!" the villagers exclaimed as their own young sons were marched away. "You must be very happy." "Who knows? We shall see!", replied the old farmer as he headed off to work his field alone.
As time went on the broken leg healed but the son was left with a slight limp. Again the neighbors came to pay their condolences. "Oh what bad luck. Too bad for you"! But the old farmer simply replied; "Who knows? We shall see."
As it turned out the other young village boys had died in the war and the old farmer and his son were the only able bodied men capable of working the village lands. The old farmer became wealthy and was very generous to the villagers. They said: "Oh how fortunate we are, you must be very happy", to which the old farmer replied, "Who knows? We shall see!"
Whether that Koan applies more to PED suspensions or to "Opener" pitching strategies, the Denizen is invited to draw his own conclusion. But either way, he might decide that it's harder to see into the future, around two corners, than he thought it was.