2019 MLB Draft Guide: Rays Revolutionize with the Opener
In 2018 the Rays turned fantasy baseball owners upside down when they strayed from the usual starting pitchers and began their games with an Opener. Greg Jewett tells you what to expect and how to strategize during the 2019 MLB season.
Necessity can be the mother of all invention. With an ERA ranking 22nd in the majors and ninth in the American League, Tampa Bay needed a spark. Especially given injuries to Jake Faria and Nathan Eovaldi . In an effort to cobble together innings, the Rays introduced the “Opener” on May 19th. From this date forward, Tampa Bay ranked third in the majors in ERA and second in the American League.
Before delving into the ramifications for fantasy, it’s worth noting the average start last year dropped to just over 5 and one-third innings. In 2014, there were 89 qualified starting pitchers. Last year, only 58 pitchers reached the required innings as a qualified starter. With innings logged by starting pitchers in decline, along with analytics suggesting limiting high leverage plate appearances versus a pitcher, will the the opener strategy stick?
Tampa Bay used the opener strategy 55 times, generally exposing the reliever as a starter to face three-to-nine batters. As a franchise,...