Watching a Major League Baseball game has become more like going to a music concert. The use of opening pitchers is becoming more common. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked about the trend with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.
"Baseball's ever-increasing use of analytics has given them some data points about how starting pitchers tend to get worse as the game progesses," Thiel said.
"Batters learn about their pitching tendencies, their deliveries, their choice of pitch and location, in the never-ending effort to throw a batter off balance. Everything about hitting is about timing. And the pitcher is trying to throw off the batter's timing.
"So, if they are able to mess with the batter by putting a reliever in for the first inning and then start with the guy who was scheduled to go five, six, seven, eight innings...it's going to be more disruptive to the offense."
NOT NEW, BUT...
Thiel said it's not exactly a new concept, but the Tampa Bay Rays really brought it into prominence last year — with moderate success. And that's prompted other teams to give it a shot, including the Mariners this season. Thiel said they have nothing to lose.
"They don't have a good bullpen. And they haven't had a good starting rotation. That's one of the reasons they're one of the worst teams in baseball. So, moving bullpen pitchers up to the front is justified.
"I think it's a worthy experiment because, right now, the Mariners are not in a competitive season. If it works, it's great. If it doesn't, well, 2020 is around the corner."