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Cole against baseball's opener strategy

February 14, 2019

Count Gerrit Cole among those who are not fans of the opener strategy."I'm not going to pay for a ticket to watch a math equation," the Astros right-hander told reporters Thursday morning at the team's Spring Training camp in West Palm Beach, Fla.The Rays began using the opener on a

Count Gerrit Cole among those who are not fans of the opener strategy.
"I'm not going to pay for a ticket to watch a math equation," the Astros right-hander told reporters Thursday morning at the team's Spring Training camp in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The Rays began using the opener on a regular basis last season. Under that strategy, Tampa Bay would start a short reliever such as Ryne Stanek against the top of the opponent's lineup before bringing in another pitcher to provide innings.
Tampa Bay finished with a 90-72 record, enjoying enough success that the opener spread to other teams. The Astros, however, were not one of them. Cole, Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. combined to start all but 10 of the team's games, with great success.
Cole in particular would not seem to be in any danger of losing starts to an opener. His first season in Houston produced a 15-5 record, 2.88 ERA and American League-leading 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
But Cole is hardly the first prominent pitcher to express misgivings about the strategy. He joined Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner, who told San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy that he would be "walking right out of the ballpark" if San Francisco utilized an opener in one of his games, Bochy revealed at the team's FanFest this past weekend.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.