Moore: Mariners’ ‘opener’ strategy classic example of too much tinkering
Mickey Mouse showed up again at T-Mobile Park Thursday night when the Mariners used an “opener” in the first inning of their game against the Orioles. Tayler Scott left with the bases loaded, and Wade LeBlanc relieved him, giving up a two-run single before retiring the side.
I’m not a fan of the “opener,” mainly because I think it’s silly in spite of seamhead stats and manager Scott Servais telling us otherwise. After the game, Servais steadfastly claimed that “overall” the opener is working. He points to 6 1/3 effective innings of relief from LeBlanc and thinks that everyone is getting too caught up in what’s going on in the first inning.
Sorry, Scott, but you’re right, I’m caught up in what’s going on in the first inning because it’s been consistently terrible. In seven games in which the Mariners have used an opener, they’ve allowed 13 runs, 11 hits and 11 walks in six innings of work. That’s not a definition of something “working” for me.
Proponents argue that starters are more productive because they don’t have to face the top of the order three times in a game. Know what I call that? Overthinking things. You mean to tell me that LeBlanc would have been less effective last night if he had started the game than coming in with two outs in the first inning? Against that really, really dangerous Orioles’ lineup, the worst in MLB?
Then again, you could say it worked because the Mariners won 5-2. But in my book, it’s still an idiotic strategy, You can tinker too much in baseball, and this is a classic example of that.