Yesterday, Sergio Romo served as the Rays’ “opener” against the Angels because they figured that sort of matchup was the best way to continue their 6-game winning streak. The deeper thinking was that by eliminating a turn through the toughest part of the order, their “regular” starter could actually pitch deeper into the game and not expose the bullpen to as many innings.
The stratagem played out perfectly, so it came as no surprise when the Rays announced they would do it again today. This time, Romo would be “opening” against Shohei Ohtani. He did about as well today as he did yesterday.
If you’re wondering why any of this matter to a Giants site, well, it’s Sergio Romo, discarded former ace reliever for our favorite team. After running aground in LA after his Giants career, he made his way to Tampa Bay, who aren’t using him as an ace reliever, but instead as part of their baseball laboratory experiments. They’re a low revenue, low talent team just trying to get by anyway they can. Sergio Romo is an aggressively fun and talented team player who will do whatever it takes so long as he’s a part of it.
What a great way to share a spotlight and show that you’ve still got it. He’s facing hitters when they’re fresh and on consecutive days he came in and struck out Mike Trout, the best player on the planet. Also, there’s something more charming about this experiment happening with a team that isn’t yours.
Do you want to see Sam Dyson opening games for the Giants? Cory Gearrin? Tony Watson? Abstractly, it’s very cool. Practically, there’s no room for it on the Giants right now. Which is sort of the point of the experiment: use the talent on hand as best you can. Limiting the Ty Blachs of the world to 2-4 innings feels like a better management of their arms than doing something as drastic as this opener gambit.
On the other hand,
That seems like a tremendous point in favor of more teams adopting an “opener”. Now you’ve got Major League hitters annoyed simply by the idea of facing a different pitcher than they were expecting. If pitching is all about upsetting a hitter’s timing, I can think of no purer victory than upsetting that timing without even throwing a pitch. So maybe Cory Gearrin should open more games for the Giants. Or Sam Dyson. The first inning will take 10 minutes longer than necessary, but it’ll really tick off the other team’s hitters.
Most importantly, I find myself happy to see Sergio Romo in baseball’s spotlight again. Fortunately for him, the Rays lost 5-2. If they had won again, per baseball superstition, he would’ve been their permanent opener for the rest of the season.