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RIP: Opener Pitcher

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#41 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 09:46 AM

 

I highly doubt we've seen the last of the opener with the Twins... Pineda is a clear candidate if he continues to struggle the second and third times through the order, as pointed to above, and the odds that all 5 rotational guys are gonna stay healthy for the whole year are minimal, so even if they only miss one or two starts we'll probably open for guys like Stewart, Gonsalves, Littell, etc. I'm guessing the only reason we didn't for Stewart's start earlier this year was because our bullpen was shortened. Two of those guys are much more effective with the opener as well. 

Stewart as starter: 5 GS, 22.1 Inn, 6.85 ERA, 1.97 WHIP

Stewart as primary pitcher: 4 G, 20.1 Inn, 1.33 ERA, 0.93 WHIP

Gonsalves as starter: 4GS, 12.1 Inn, 11.68 ERA, 3.00 WHIP

Gonsalves as primary pitcher: 3 G, 12.1 Inn 1.46 ERA, 1.05 WHIP

 

Numbers speak for themselves. Rays still use it once or twice in their regular 5 man rotation and are very good.

 

Pretty small sample size here.In Stewart's 4 starts last year, he never had a babip below .333, while in his 4 primary appearances he never had a babip above .222.Since he had two appearances in each category against Detroit, it seems a lot more like chance than proof Stewart is now Cy Young so long as he doesn't have to start.

 

Same thing with Gonsalves--in his starts he never had a babip below .294, and hada game at .500 and one at .857(!).Meanwhile, in his primary appearances, he had one at .273, while the other two were .071 and .000.

 

It's way too early to state with any kind of certainty that the only thing keeping Stewart and Gonsalves from being MLB regulars (and stars, at that) is an unwillingness to allow them to skip first innings.


#42 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 09:51 AM

I'm waiting for a team to realize carrying 4 players on their roster every day who are guaranteed to not appear in the game is a waste, and start utilizing 3-4 guys on a rotation to be starters 4 and 5.Player 1 starts, and immediately gets sent down.4 days later player 2 gets called up, starts, and immediately gets sent down.If there is a day off either before player 2's start, or before the next time a 5th starter is need, player 1 comes back up, other player 3 gets brought up.Rinse repeat.

 

This means 80% of the time, a team could have either an 8th or 9th man in the bullpen, or a 4th or 5th guy on the bench.

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#43 Riverbrian

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 12:29 PM

 

I agree with you, maybe that wasn't clear in my original post.

 

The joke was that the comeback to the opener seems to always come down to "that's not the way the game has always been played so obviously it can't work"

 

I took your post as sarcasm and I was playing along in full agreement with you.:)

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#44 Riverbrian

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 01:02 PM

 

I agree with you on the goal of 1400, but does it go against that goal having a pitcher scheduled to just pitch 1 inning? Even with Stanek it looks like they are trying to get more than 1 inning from him this year.

 

Having a pitcher throw 1 inning at a time is fine for a pitcher that isn't very good. You want to limit his damage before he is cut or sent back down to AAA. 

 

But, If a pitcher is doing well, you'd want him to throw 2 or 3 innings at a time instead of just one single inning. You want to increasethe total allocation of innings out of talented relievers from 60 innings a year to... I don't know... pick a number... 90 innings, 100 innings and limit the number of appearances, times he has to warm up. 

 

The counter argument to this is that a manager will want to be able to get more appearances out of special bullpen arms so they can have an impact in more games.

 

That's fine if you have 5 starters in a rotation who can blow them away but most teams don't have 5 guys in a rotation who can do that. The Rays showed everyone that it's easier and cheaper to find effective bullpen guys who can throw 3 innings and then it is to find starters who can throw 6. So... they mapped out a new plan and it worked. 

 

Ultimately... Any team is looking for pitchers who can effectively eat those 1400 innings. They will want to get more innings out of anyone who is effective. 

 

 

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#45 Channing1964

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Posted 08 May 2019 - 07:21 AM

i just think to consider it a new concept is rather silly. In 1987, Tom Kelly basically used an "opener" on 3 out of 5 nights(or days). And thats all I mean.

Insert "But that's not the way baseball has always been played so it's dumb" take


#46 jdoffing11

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 04:48 PM

 

Pretty small sample size here.In Stewart's 4 starts last year, he never had a babip below .333, while in his 4 primary appearances he never had a babip above .222.Since he had two appearances in each category against Detroit, it seems a lot more like chance than proof Stewart is now Cy Young so long as he doesn't have to start.

 

Same thing with Gonsalves--in his starts he never had a babip below .294, and hada game at .500 and one at .857(!).Meanwhile, in his primary appearances, he had one at .273, while the other two were .071 and .000.

 

It's way too early to state with any kind of certainty that the only thing keeping Stewart and Gonsalves from being MLB regulars (and stars, at that) is an unwillingness to allow them to skip first innings.

A little late here, but for the record I am NOT advocating for them to be regular starters, or primary pitchers, at least not yet. They would need to prove more in the minors and Pineda would need to get even worse to start thinking about that, but the whole purpose of using an opener is that they aren't 100% ready to go head to head with an MLB lineup. What I am saying is that it's unlikely we won't need them to contribute at all throughout the year, like how Stewart has to pitch the doubleheader tonight. Someone probably ends up on the IL for a couple weeks at least once during the course of the year, and we would need to call someone up.

 

And sure it could be partly a coincidence, but there is still clear correlation to better results with using an opener in front of them. 

 

The babip arguement is somewhat vaild because they could have gotten a little luckier in primary appearances, but with the opener, it is the 5-9 hitters that are putting the ball into play more than the 1-4 that would for a starter. I'd be interested to know if there's a stat for this because I'd be shocked if the average probability of a hit or xbh wasn't higher in the starts than primary because they are facing the 5-9 hitters more often, who make weaker contact.


#47 yarnivek1972

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 05:36 PM

I highly doubt we've seen the last of the opener with the Twins... Pineda is a clear candidate if he continues to struggle the second and third times through the order, as pointed to above, and the odds that all 5 rotational guys are gonna stay healthy for the whole year are minimal, so even if they only miss one or two starts we'll probably open for guys like Stewart, Gonsalves, Littell, etc. I'm guessing the only reason we didn't for Stewart's start earlier this year was because our bullpen was shortened. Two of those guys are much more effective with the opener as well.
Stewart as starter: 5 GS, 22.1 Inn, 6.85 ERA, 1.97 WHIP
Stewart as primary pitcher: 4 G, 20.1 Inn, 1.33 ERA, 0.93 WHIP
Gonsalves as starter: 4GS, 12.1 Inn, 11.68 ERA, 3.00 WHIP
Gonsalves as primary pitcher: 3 G, 12.1 Inn 1.46 ERA, 1.05 WHIP

Numbers speak for themselves. Rays still use it once or twice in their regular 5 man rotation and are very good.


One would think that knowing this, the Twins would want someone to open for Stewart tonight. If he hadn’t pitched in game one, I would have said May.

#48 Channing1964

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Posted 13 May 2019 - 09:58 PM

I agree with you, maybe that wasn't clear in my original post.

The joke was that the comeback to the opener seems to always come down to "that's not the way the game has always been played so obviously it can't work"

and the whole point is this....that IS the way the game has always been played. Its just that teams that do it have to do it in lieu of fielding a decent deep 5 man rotation. Tom Kelly proved you can manage your way into the playoffs and win a championship with arguably one ace and 2 decent starters. That '87 twins bullpen was clutch.

#49 Channing1964

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Posted 13 May 2019 - 10:09 PM

for the record, I recognize the Rays as being a leader in forward thinking and innovation in the game. I also applaud the progress the Twins seem to have made in this area. Specifically, the opener concept is very far from new. To give Tampa credit for it is a nice 90 win 2018 story but that is one small reason for their success. if so then why go out and sign Charlie Morton. Kevin Cash and his leadership instincts had more to do with their success than any of those pitchers last year. And to emulate the Tampa Bay Rays would hardly be my idea of a blueprint for success. Everybody has to manage their staff however they see fit. We may just be talking about Wes Johnson all winter guys!

#50 old nurse

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 04:05 AM

 

I'm waiting for a team to realize carrying 4 players on their roster every day who are guaranteed to not appear in the game is a waste, and start utilizing 3-4 guys on a rotation to be starters 4 and 5.Player 1 starts, and immediately gets sent down.4 days later player 2 gets called up, starts, and immediately gets sent down.If there is a day off either before player 2's start, or before the next time a 5th starter is need, player 1 comes back up, other player 3 gets brought up.Rinse repeat.

 

This means 80% of the time, a team could have either an 8th or 9th man in the bullpen, or a 4th or 5th guy on the bench.

As hard as it is to find 5 starters you want to find about 15 because 10 days is the minimum that someone is sent down has to stay in the minors, The second problem is that I think Berrios is the only current starter with options.Without options the player can be claimed by another team. Without those 2 major, fatal flaws your idea is not a bad one.

 


#51 jorgenswest

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 05:54 PM

In order for the opener to be an asset you really need to be able to spare a very good reliever to open the game. They are guaranteed to go through the most difficult part of the order. In order for this to work well you really need a surplus in the pen. I don't think anyone would argue the Twins have a surplus in the pen. For now and for the Twins it doesn't make sense.

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#52 Riverbrian

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 08:57 PM

 

In order for the opener to be an asset you really need to be able to spare a very good reliever to open the game. They are guaranteed to go through the most difficult part of the order. In order for this to work well you really need a surplus in the pen. I don't think anyone would argue the Twins have a surplus in the pen. For now and for the Twins it doesn't make sense.

 

Agreed 

 

 

 

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#53 ashbury

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 08:23 AM

In order for the opener to be an asset you really need to be able to spare a very good reliever to open the game. They are guaranteed to go through the most difficult part of the order. In order for this to work well you really need a surplus in the pen. I don't think anyone would argue the Twins have a surplus in the pen. For now and for the Twins it doesn't make sense.

Yes and no. For me, it boils down to this: certain starters are almost guaranteed (usually by needing too many pitches to record outs) to be followed by a succession of relievers, quite probably three of them even in a win. Whether your relievers are lights-out or not, they will be in the game. Probably you have a pretty good idea from the outset as to who they will be, based on availability due to bullpen usage in prior games. What is the best deployment of those arms? You go into the game hoping for a win (otherwise why are we discussing this?) and the only inning you know for sure who will be the first three batters, is the first, and those are usually good batters. Assigning a good arm to that inning, and taking your chances with the rest of the innings, seems like a modest improvement over hoping to find a high-leverage use for that one guy.

 

So I don't see it as "sparing" that guy. You're just changing his entry into the game.

 

People are assuming too high a standard for the choice of opener. It need not be your very best arm. Suppose in a traditional strategy you've got a small lead and your #5 starter falters mid-game, already at about 90 pitches, and walks the #8 and #9 batters, with nobody out and the top of the order now coming up, and you decide to bring in a reliever. It's too soon for your closer, or even your #1 setup guy. Who would you pick, subject to availability, as the guy with the best chance to put out this fire? That's the guy you probably want as the opener. (If you're a revolutionary thinker and would bring in your setup guy or closer so early, I'm fine with that logic too. And if your bullpen is so bad that you might leave the faltering starter in, then ugh, yeah, maybe you shouldn't try the opener strategy, but as manager you also should probably rent and not buy a house.)

 

Of course no plan of battle survives first contact with the enemy. You have to have a Plan B for this, just like you have a Plan B for a traditional arrangement.

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#54 jorgenswest

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 06:11 PM

More runs are scored in the first inning than any other inning. The reason is clear. The best hitters are guaranteed to bat that inning. Any plan to throw one of the current Twins 5th/6th inning reliever to that part of the line up is going to fail. If a team has depth of late inning relievers to spare and can throw a very good reliever to start the game that opener role makes sense. The Twins don’t have that depth.

#55 Riverbrian

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 06:21 PM

More runs are scored in the first inning than any other inning. The reason is clear. The best hitters are guaranteed to bat that inning. Any plan to throw one of the current Twins 5th/6th inning reliever to that part of the line up is going to fail. If a team has depth of late inning relievers to spare and can throw a very good reliever to start the game that opener role makes sense. The Twins don’t have that depth.


I agreed with your earlier post mainly because I will always agree that you need a surplus in the bullpen.

I’m just not sure yet about what the Twins have in the bullpen and not ready to declare anyone as “going to fail”.

The Rays didn’t have a top end bullpen last year... nobody would have looked at that pen and said “eureka” but they had a surplus because the pen performed when asked.

But I agree... you always need a surplus and you can’t get that surplus with 3 or 4 guys that you only trust in low leverage.
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