Necessity can be the mother of all inventions. In 2018, 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 for the second straight season. In 2014, there were 89 qualified starting pitchers. This number cratered to only 58 pitchers reached the required innings as a qualified starter in 2018 with only a slight increase to 60 last year. 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...