Ryne Stanek says opening games for the Rays has made him a 'social butterfly'
For nearly the entire history of baseball, the job of the pitcher starting the game has essentially remained the same: pitch as deep into the game as possible. Then the 2018 Rays happened.
On May 19 against the Angels, the Rays tasked pitcher Sergio Romo with his first career start. He threw a scoreless first inning before being removed for Ryan Yarbrough, who threw the next 6 1/3 innings. The Opener was born.
Since the Rays and Romo introduced this new style of pitcher usage back in May, the Rays have turned to several other relievers for Opener duties. However, the pitcher most frequently tasked with opening the game for Tampa Bay this year has been 26-year-old rookie Ryne Stanek, who has started 21 games for the Rays while never going more than two innings. Stanek has excelled in this role, while also maintaining his performance level when he comes out of the bullpen as normal.
But how has this revolutionary role changed Stanek's experience as a Major League pitcher? How does he prepare for opening a game compared to coming out of the bullpen? How has his clubhouse social life changed? Check out the video at the top of the page to hear more.