The Tampa Bay Rays are coming off a bounce-back season in which they won 90 games, in part because of the successful use of the revolutionary opener concept. Manager Kevin Cash confirmed that the club plans to do the same in 2019, and the Rays are really embracing the strategy. They even made T-shirts for Tampa’s group of openers:
The Rays’ new pitching strategy made its debut on May 19 when they sent out Sergio Romo to start against the Los Angeles Angels. The Rays also had Ryne Stanek and Hunter Wood, all normally relievers, deployed as starters during the season. From that point on, Rays openers saw success as Tampa had the third-best ERA (3.50) in the majors behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (3.19) and Houston Astros (3.39).
Stanek, who had a 3.38 ERA in 40 innings with 53 strikeouts in 2018, seems to be more than ready for additional “opens” this season:
It’s fun to see the Rays embracing the quirkiness of the opener strategy. It’ll be even more fun to watch how it plays out in its second year.
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