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Article: Handbook Sampler: How the Twins Opened Their Minds to the Opener

the opener offseason handbook
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#21 USAFChief

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 04:51 PM

 

If the intent is to get a pitcher to not have to pitch to batters 3x a game, that also means that your starter/primary pitcher is going to pitch less innings.  

 

If this concept becomes accepted throughout the league, it seems to me that it will eventually change pitching as we know it.The eventual result to me is pitchers pitching once through the order, ie, 2-3 innings.So the team would need 3 pitchers for every game with pitchers pitching every third day/game.They could then have another 3-4 relievers who would be 1-2 inning guys to come in if one of the three gets into trouble.

 

So the #1 pitchers in the league would pitch in about a third of the games (54) for 3 innings max (162 innings).PItchers would have to train their arms different.Each team would also need 9 primary pitchers versus the current 5 starters.

 

If that first time thru the order is so much better, this seems like where they will end up.And won't all those 1-0 games be exciting?Only problem is what happens with double headers and extra innings?Every team will need a couple Chris Giminez type players.

I think the intent is to get the same (or even more) IP from the same guy. But he starts his third time through the order with the opponent's 4th or 5th hitter, instead of starting from the top of the order. 

 

 

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#22 ashburyjohn

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 05:53 PM

If the intent is to get a pitcher to not have to pitch to batters 3x a game, that also means that your starter/primary pitcher is going to pitch less innings. 

Depends on the pitcher and why this strategy is being considered. If he's got a track record of getting in trouble when facing the top of the lineup the third time, then sparing him those first few batters might let you get an extra inning out of him, compared to what you've been getting until now, not less.

 

/ edit - I failed to notice there was a new page and Chief had already made the point sufficiently. My bad.

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#23 rdehring

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 06:05 PM

 

I think the intent is to get the same (or even more) IP from the same guy. But he starts his third time through the order with the opponent's 4th or 5th hitter, instead of starting from the top of the order. 

 

 

Depends on the pitcher and why this strategy is being considered. If he's got a track record of getting in trouble when facing the top of the lineup the third time, then sparing him those first few batters might let you get an extra inning out of him, compared to what you've been getting until now, not less.

 

That is true, if the intent is to miss the first 3-4 hitters.But the numbers game, ie, averages first time thru the order include all 9 hitters.Expect the opener theory deals with the first 3-4 hitter issue.But if they begin looking at first time thru the order versus second, third, don't be surprised if we begin seeing them stack 3 pitchers in a game with one time thru the order for each....plus a closer for the 9th.


#24 DocBauer

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 06:14 PM

Agree with Vanimal and Ash in regard to being a very effective tool for young/rookie pitchers in particular. Especially after watching its use with Stewart and Gonsalves this year.

However, not being stubborn, but I'm still not sure I entirely see the full benefit. I'd a good one arm is used in the first, it certainly doesn't guarantee success as that pen arm is still, theoretically, seeing the best 3-4 hitters the opponent has. And if said reliever came in to the game in the 6th inning, for instance, he could also face those same hitters, and still for his first time.

Maybe I just cant totally wrap my head around the concept yet.
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#25 Doomtints

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 11:51 AM

In the AL, the bats you really have to worry about should be 3-5 in the lineup. Assuming even a good game for the pitcher has a couple of hits go by, the pitcher is facing the meat and potatoes of the opposing lineup almost exactly in the "opener" scenario in his third inning.

 

The NL is different and the best hitters move up a slot (2-4), but pitching has to be managed differently in the NL and an opener is a hard sell there too.

 

"Sequencing" is a bad concept for baseball, and the opener concept is just another "perfect world" sequencing scenario. Assuming a no hitter/perfect game, what's the optimal way to get your pitcher through the opposing team's lineup? That's what the opener concept is all about, and it's nonsense. In an actual perfect game, you want your starter in there from the first out. Why not use real data? E.g., this pitcher allows 5 hits on average through the first three innings. Should *this* pitcher start the game or come in later? When?

 

From the baseball business standpoint, the opener concept will boost the W stat for most decent pitchers. This will increase trade value, with the counterpoint being it will also make the pitchers more expensive to retain.

Edited by Doomtints, 11 November 2018 - 11:54 AM.

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#26 ashburyjohn

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 03:22 PM

Why not use real data?

How about this for real data: more runs are scored in the first inning than in any other. Why not apply one of your good bullpen arms to try to address that, and then let the long-haul pitcher settle in for the innings which follow? If all goes well, bring in another good arm when the going gets tough again late in the game.

 

And if things don't go perfectly, that's baseball. The manager still has to manage. But you can try to put your players in a position to succeed.

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#27 Doomtints

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 05:03 PM

 

How about this for real data: more runs are scored in the first inning than in any other. Why not apply one of your good bullpen arms to try to address that, and then let the long-haul pitcher settle in for the innings which follow? If all goes well, bring in another good arm when the going gets tough again late in the game.

 

And if things don't go perfectly, that's baseball. The manager still has to manage. But you can try to put your players in a position to succeed.

 

First inning scoring is far more pronounced in the NL. In the AL, more runs are scored in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings (with 6th being the highest) than in the 1st. The third inning is no walk in the park either.

 

So what's the advantage for a 1-inning opener if the 4th-6th are all brutal? All of those innings are tough. And assuming this pushes scoring back an inning (I doubt it does), what's the cost of having more scoring in the 7th just to have less scoring in the 3rd? Is it tougher for a team to come back from being behind later in the game?

 

Furthermore, apart from the 9th, the fewest runs are scored in the 2nd. Why not keep the opener in for one more inning and bring in a fresh arm when the game starts to get interesting in the 3rd?

 

Finally, is the first inning scoring due to the pitcher still loosening up, or is it because of the hitting? If it's because the pitcher is loosening up, what's the ramification of the "opener" having to loosen up followed by the starter having to do the same thing in a later inning?

 

But still we're generalizing. If one particular starter is lights out in the 1st like clockwork, why would you not have him start? Or if the starter can go 7 innings regularly? Why wouldn't we tailor this for each player? Good managers know how to play the matchups, not generalize.

 

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Edited by Doomtints, 11 November 2018 - 05:23 PM.


#28 ashburyjohn

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 05:43 PM

The league split is interesting - the aggregate version I've seen looks similar if you imaging blending the two. That certainly changes the thinking, although there is still something to be said for handing over the relatively easier second inning to the starter, who sometimes doesn't begin the game with complete command.

 

I've said elsewhere that a stud starter should not require an Opener. It seems like a decent strategy for breaking a rookie starter into the majors without relegating him to bullpen mopup (or short) duty.

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#29 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 05:40 PM

This was also discussed in the full story -- with quotes from Mike Radcliff on the subject. Go ahead. Download it here. It's free!
 
https://www.e-junkie...97641&amount=10
 
Come back and let me know what you think.

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#30 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 06:02 PM

And you wouldn't have had to use the opener. And you could have let the 'starter's' pitch count dictate how many additional pitchers would need to be used. Bottom line, you are committing to a second pitcher before you have the information that is available to you in the 5th/6th inning (or the 4th for that matter). It will ultimately result in more pitchers getting used, and further stretch the concepts of what can be done with a 25-man roster. Maybe it won't be material. Maybe it will. Managers will always want the back end protection and the protection for tomorrow's game. Like many things that end up being smart, it's might not necessarily make for a better game. I fear this will be the case with anything that results in more pitchers on rosters. The jury is out...but it definitely looks like we're going to find out, which is fine with me, I can't predict exactly how this will play out.


This is where I like this for young starters who aren't going nine the vast majority of the time. If you were dialed in with a guy that could go two against tough lineup and set the tone that might be a way to lead the young guy. Many variables. Baseball is a slow moving sport that is losing traction in these short attention span times. Embracing the cerebral may be the way to go



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