We know that with Brandon Hyde in control of camp and of the franichse on the field, there are going to be differences in style among other things from what Orioles fans are used to seeing. However there’s one idea that’s been floated about which I hope doesn’t come to pass: the use of an opener. Tampa began the practice last season, and a few other teams followed suit as the season went on.
Just as a refresher, in essence an opener is simply the opposite of a closer. A team opens the game with what would have normally been a relief pitcher, who’s lifted after recording 2-4 outs. Then the guy who was traditionally the starter comes in, in essence in long relief.
Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the practice. There’s the obvious argument of that’s just not how the game is played that one could make, and I do believe in that point. However I would submit that it would also induce the propensity to blow through one’s bullpen as well. Managing a bullpen – knowing when to make changes and when not to – is much tougher than it appears. If you blow through bullpen relievers like candy, someone’s arm’s going to fall off. GM Mike Elias on openers:
The opener strategy doesn’t make sense for every team, every rotation or every bullpen. But I can see a scenario or two this year where we might use it this year
Courtesy of Joe Trezza, MLB.com
Given what I said above about using bullpen relievers, it just seems to me that it wouldn’t mesh with a rookie manager’s outlook to use this strategy. But then again, if you’re going to try something on a trial & error basis, this might be the year to do it. However my personal opinion is that this is simply a gimmichy thing in MLB which will eventually run course.