Petriello: How has a year of ‘the opener’ changed baseball?

From Mike Petriello at on May 19, 2019:

One year ago today, those ever-innovative Tampa Bay Rays changed the game again by reintroducing the concept of “the opener” to baseball. On May 19, they gave Sergio Romo his first career start, after his first 588 games came in relief.

Romo struck out Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, and Justin Upton in a perfect inning in that first start, as the Rays went on to win, 5-3. The next day, he started again, throwing a second scoreless inning, though the Rays lost, 5-2. Romo only made three more starts in 2018, but the Rays ended up using the opener dozens of times and continue to do so in 2019. Several other clubs ended up trying out the strategy, too.

The Rays had a 4.45 ERA as a team headed into that first game, the ninth highest in baseball. They’ve had a 2.85 ERA, by far baseball’s best, since. So the opener was a massive success, right?

Sort of. It’s been useful, but “Did the Rays’ ERA go down?” isn’t exactly the best way to measure it, either. Now that we’re a full year into the world of the “opener,” can we see how it’s affected baseball?

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Originally published: May 20, 2019. Last Updated: May 20, 2019.