They listened!! Finally they listened to me!!!
I have been saying for years that it would be interesting for a MLB team to start a reliever to get through the first few innings and have the starter come in later to go the bulk of the game, maybe even finish it.
Yes, I have said this. Why?
Other than the fact I like to challenge strategic conventions in sports (games evolve faster than game philosophies) and wonder why don’t more mediocre teams just try new things to see if they find something of note, squeeze out a few more wins, and maybe be in the forefront of something interesting for the future instead of playing the same old game and ending up around .500, I have some logic behind this:
Starters are, in theory, your best pitchers. Yet they rarely finish games. Even if they do, they are tired. It is also fair to say that later innings are more important than earlier innings. Why not ensure your better pitcher to be in at that time?
There is a wisdom around baseball where you don’t want starters to face a hitter 3 times, unless that pitcher is a stud (there are numbers that back this up). Well, most pitchers are not aces, so let the reliever get through the top of the lineup at the start, bring in the starter to face the lineup only 2 times in the middle and later inning.
It will be fun! And different. So why not??
Well, finally a team answered this call: the Tampa Bay Rays.
The perfect team for this: not so good that they are compromising their position in the standing based on some weird idea. Not so bad to where anything they do will probably not work.
Sergio Romo last week ‘started’ two games in a row for the Rays. After 1 inning, he is replaced by the usual starter. The reason to do this are pretty much all the above reasons I mentioned.
Now this is a strategy that will probably not be used with any of your 1-3 starters, but hardly any team has a 4th and 5th starter worth a sou, so why not Frankenstein your pitching rotation, get a bit creative, and ‘throw a change-up’ at the team (ZING!).
Anyway, who knows what fruit this new idea will bring Tampa. It surly won’t bring them more fans to their shitty stadium. But I bet more teams will use this or similar ideas at certain times of the season to get through stretches of injury or high leverage games.
And if this becomes a real thing in baseball, well MLB get my number and call. I have tons of more ideas to share.