It’s not a coincidence that on the night the Rangers were officially eliminated from winning the division, they went the copycat route and tried the “opener.”
Tampa Bay pioneered this opener concept. It worked for them. So baseball, being a game of imitation, dictates every other team will follow suit, whether or not they know what they are doing.
It’s the next step in the Bieberfication of starting pitchers. First, starters could go only 100 pitches. An arbitrary number pulled from thin air. Then, it devolved to where 85 pitches is all a starter is allowed.
Then, in an attempt to further ruin what had been a perfectly beautiful game for more than one hundred years, the metrics guys convinced general managers that now starters can go only two times through the batting order.
Thus, the “opener” was concocted.
The way it is used by the Rangers is to minimize the number of times the real starter has to face the top of the lineup. Nothing says “You’re not really major league material” to a pitcher quite like having to use another pitcher to get the hard guys out.
What baseball is doing is ruining one of the its most appealing aspects: the starting pitcher matchup.
It used to be, “I’m going to the game tonight.”
“Awesome, who’s pitching?”
“Pedro Martinez against Andy Pettitte.”
“Wow, that’s going to be incredible.”
Now it’s, “Who’s pitching?”
Pitching is quickly becoming generic. The opener is the first step. Soon we will see a parade of two-inning pitchers. It may not make good baseball sense, but it will make good financial sense.
Pitchers will soon be interchangeable drill bits. Plug and play. Starting pitching is expensive. But when there is no true starting pitching anymore, you no longer have to pay a premium for it.
It’s like spring training games all over again.
Andrew Heaney (8-8, 4.09) vs. Mike Minor (10-7, 4.33)
Game time: 7:05