Edubray Ramos will be the Phillies’ starting pitcher tonight.
But imagine if he was, and then you pulled him after one inning to bring in Jake Arrieta.
That’s what’s going on down in Tampa Bay, where the Rays have been using relievers in starting positions and plan to do so again this Memorial Day weekend with Sergio Romo, who opened a couple of games last weekend.
This weekend, Romo will start Friday’s and Sunday’s games at Tropicana Field, and Ryne Stanek will get the Saturday start. They will likely be followed by “starters” Ryan Yarbrough, Anthony Banda and Austin Pruitt.
“Hey guys, I’m starting again,” a smiling Romo told reporters Thursday. “It’s fun. We’re trying to win ballgames. I’m going to try and do my best to make them look like geniuses.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash explained last week that the move allows a reliever like Romo to get the first shot at a lineup’s heavy hitters, giving the would-be starters an advantage on their second and third times through the lineup.
“We’re not trying to do anything that’s cute,” Cash said. “We’re trying to do something that’s right for us to win games.”
Fair enough. The first inning is the highest scoring inning in baseball, so if you want to burn a relief arm against the top of a tough lineup, then bring a starter in, I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s just another strategy to make yourself competitive, and if it works, go for it.
Not everyone is a fan, though. The Angels’ Zack Cozart, who got a taste of the strategy last week, doesn’t like the idea:
“I hope baseball doesn’t go in that direction to where it’s going to be more like Spring Training, having a pitcher go an inning or two and then change it out.
“I don’t think that’s good for baseball, in my opinion. It’s definitely weird, not knowing who you’re going to face in your first couple of at-bats. … Usually, you have a starter and you think you’re going to have three at-bats probably. So you’re going to use the first at-bat and you want to have success, see what he has if you haven’t faced him before, stuff like that. When you’re going Spring Training style, it’s definitely a different ballgame. It’s Spring Training; that’s the best way I could describe it. I hope it doesn’t go in that direction.”
Yeah, well, so what? People bitch about Floyd Mayweather’s style, but he’s 50-0. Doug Collins’ Sixers were boring but they didn’t turn the ball over and hit a bunch of mid-range junk. John Isner is a one-dimensional big server, but when he’s on, he’s on.
So there are all sorts of examples of things that might be annoying, or dull, but they might also be effective. Cozart’s words sound like sour grapes to me.
Bob and Anthony talked about this with Anthony’s son on the latest Crossed Up podcast. The conversation starts around the hour mark:
Anthony had more on his stance in yesterday’s “Get off my Lawn” column:
“…If you don’t trust your starting pitchers in their first inning of work, then why are they even starters? I know it worked and Mike Trout and Justin Upton each struck out twice against Romo, but come on, this is a terrible idea. Would I rather risk being down 1-0 in the first inning? Or would I rather have my reliable setup man/closer available to me in the eighth inning of a one-run game?…”
You tell me – good for baseball, bad for baseball, or neither?