If you haven’t delved into the whole “opener” discussion out there before tonight’s AL Wild Card Game, you should have a few hours of hearing about it to begin to form a strong and no doubt well thought-out opinion you can then defend when you argue with your friends and co-workers around the old water cooler. [ed. note - “Do they still have those? Water coolers? We work from home.”]
Oakland’s A’s are going with an “opener”, Liam Hendriks, at the start of their AL Wild Card matchup with the New York Yankees, then they’ll work their way through the assortment of bullpen arms on their roster.
Athletics’ manager Bob Melvin talked on Tuesday afternoon about the decision to go that route this season being at least in part due to injuries to the A’s pitchers.
“For me there’s bullpen days, and then there’s an opener and a starter after that,” Melvin explained.
“To me they’re a little different. We’ve had bullpen days this year based on injury, based on a starter coming out of a game early. We did a game in Toronto that was a pure bullpen day.
“But with as many injuries as we have had to our starters, we are trying to find a way to get a little bit better. Part of this was starting Liam, bringing a starter in after that, had mixed results as far as it went. Some games were good, some not. Sometimes we tried to extend Liam and tried to get him through a second inning; that didn’t work. So there’s been some trial and error with this. But I think the reason that we started looking at this is because we’ve had so many injuries in our rotation, and we’re just trying to do the best possible thing that we think for a particular day.”
Yankees’ skipper Aaron Boone talked about the decision by the A’s as part of a recent trend in the postseason.
“We’ve seen really over the last five or ten years just how big a factor the bullpen has been in a lot of teams’ run to a world championship,” Boone told reporters. “And then I would say even over the last couple of years and certainly this year with what we’ve seen from Tampa and other clubs, it’s even gone to another level with how teams are using [pitchers] and how bullpens continue to evolve.
“We certainly are prepared for that kind of scenario tomorrow, and we know the A’s have a ton of really good arms over there that present a lot of challenges for us, and we’ll just be prepared as best we can to handle that and to succeed.”
Boone and the Yankees are, of course, going with a traditional starter, Luis Severino, out there in the AL Wild Card game.
Severino, 24, faced the A’s early in September, giving up six hits, a walk, and six runs, five of them earned, in 2 2⁄3 innings, though he held Oakland to one run on five hits in six innings in May.
Who’s going to move on to face the Red Sox?