The Yankees have been utilizing the new idea of using an opener as of late, and many have begun to realize that it may not be such a bad idea after all.
Last year, we saw the Tampa Bay Rays revolutionize the game of baseball. Traditionally, there is a starting pitcher, who ideally can pitch six innings, a couple of primary set up men, and a closer. However, the Rays flipped it last year to make the closer, open the game. The two main proponents of this strategy were RP Ryne Stanek and CP Sergio Romo. Romo now spends his summers pitching for the other Florida Fish, the Miami Marlins, while Stanek continues to open ball games for the Rays.
We have seen several teams adapt to this strategy, including the Yankees, who are 8-0 when using the opener. The Yankees have used Chad Green and Stephen Tarpley as openers this season while using traditional starting pitching for the other games. However, more usage of the opener for the Yankees would improve the clubs pitching by so much.
Here is why: To start, the opener gives managers the flexibility to turn to different options out of the pen, or a regular starter essentially starting an inning or two late. The Yankees should, and continue too, utilize the opener with a regular starter after the opener concludes his outing. Why? For example, a pitcher like Masahiro Tanaka who has a 3.74 ERA, a 4.09 xFIP, and a pitching WAR of 2.2, all respectable numbers.
However, when Tanaka pitches the first two times through the lineup, opponents hit under .232. When he pitches in the third time through the lineup, opponents hit .292, have a .345 OBP, and have a 154 sOPS+. However, if an opener was placed in front of Tanaka, he would be able to face the batting order twice, and ideally, hand it over to the best bullpen ever assembled.