May 13, 2016.

The idea of the opener didn’t originate with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018. It originated on RR3 in 2016.


With the epidemic of arm injuries leading to Tommy John surgery that has galloped through baseball the last few decades, so much light has been shed on limiting pitchers innings and pitch counts.

And rightfully so.

The human arm was made for holding a phone for texting, for operating a video game or TV remote, or for lifting a glass of Jack Daniels, not for the damaging stress of throwing a baseball.

Already this season two pitchers have been taken out of no-hitters in the eighth inning because their pitch counts have been nearing one hundred pitches.

Thank goodness for that. A pitcher’s future is much more important than his legacy.

Asking a pitcher to throw more than one hundred pitches in one game is unheard of. One hundred is a number so high it is mathematically incalculable, like infinity.

Now that Yu Darvish is nearing a return from Tommy John surgery, and with A. J. Griffin coming off the D.L. around the same time, the Rangers are kicking around the idea of a six-man rotation in order to save Davish’s and Griffin’s and all their pitchers’ arms.

At first I thought, bravo. About time for the six-man rotation. After all, if you want your team to win, your best pitchers should be spread out over fewer games.

Then, out of the blue, like a gift from the heavens, I was struck by the genius of a truly revolutionary idea:

The Fourteen-Man Rotation.

It’s a smarter, safer, and sounder way to save your pitching staff’s arms than the archaic idea of a starting rotation, be it six-man, five-man or, heaven forbid, four-man. It’s an idea so genius, most pitchers would throw no more than a few innings a week, maybe three.

Here’s how it works:

These days, most pitching staffs carry thirteen pitchers. Five starters and eight relievers. If you add just one more pitcher to the thirteen-man staff, so each team carries fourteen pitchers, the Fourteen-Man Rotation idea will work

The revolutionary breakthrough is this: Instead of designated starters rotating from game to game as you have now—which is just begging serious injury by expecting each one of those pitchers to throw as many as five innings per game—instead you rotate through the entire fourteen pitchers, twelve of them each pitching two innings only at a time, two of them being designated as closers who alternate pitching the ninth inning of each game.

There are 162 games per season, requiring, of course, nine innings per game to pitch (fewer if you get lucky and the home team is winning in the ninth). That’s 1,458 innings per season that needs to be accounted for.

With two closers alternating ninth innings, each closer is responsible for 81 innings. Last season, Shawn Tolleson pitched 73 innings. So he would have to be stretched out in spring training in order to add the massive extra workload of eight more innings. A mid-season call up of a minor leaguer could alleviate some of the workload.

With 162 innings accounted for by the two closers, that leaves 1,296 innings for the remaining twelve-man rotation. Or 108 innings per pitcher.

The Fourteen-Man Rotation dictates no pitcher will throw more than 108 innings a season. It’s much more practical. Much more reasonable. Much more humane.

Practically, this is how the Fourteen-Man Rotation idea would work with the current Rangers roster, including Darvish and Griffin.

Suddenly, arm injuries are a thing of the past.

This new Fourteen-Man Rotation approach to pitching will save everyone’s arm and ensure there will never be another pitching injury ever.

Think about that. No more Tommy John surgeries. No more rotator cuff surgeries. No more elbow surgeries or removing bone spur surgeries. No more pitchers salaries wasted by sitting on the disabled list.

You have now saved each pitcher’s arm for post-season work.

Even better, you have saved his arm so that when he retires he can use his arm as often and for whatever he wants.

Some revolutions are just sitting there waiting to be adopted.

Like the Fourteen-Man Rotation.

You’re welcome, baseball.