A trend that took hold last season across Major League Baseball may find it’s way to the Bronx in 2019. The manager of the New York Yankees, Aaron Boone said that the use of the “Opener” might be employed by the team this season. And as with most trends, there are pros and cons to its use as a strategy. Also likewise, there are groups of people (fans/analysts) for and against it as well. We have covered the “Opener” in a few pieces on this site, so personally, I am in favor of the Opener. But for this piece, we will examine how using this strategy could benefit the Yankees greatly during the 2019 season.
Necessity the Mother of Innovation
When the Yankees break camp and head North for the start of the Major League season, they will be without two-fifths of their intended starting rotation. Luis Severino and CC Sabathia will not be with the club come Opening Day. And because of that, the Yankees will be forced to mix and match when it comes to the final two rotation spots. Domingo German and Luis Cessa are likely to get the “starts” the first time through the rotation. But if there’s a setback in the rehab of either Sevvy or CC, Cessa and German may not be ready for a full time starting role in 2019. And for that reason, the Yanks may look towards and Opener.
Armed Like No Other
No other team in MLB is better equipped to employ a strategy like the Opener than the New York Yankees. The Yankees have at least five relievers that could be closers for other teams right now. And that doesn’t even factor in guys like Jonathan Holder, the aforementioned German, Cessa and even Tommy Kahnle. When you factor in the thirteen arms the Yanks are likely to have in the bullpen the majority of the season. They could easily use this strategy as a true advantage. On a “normal” start, when you can run out guys like Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, and Chad Green the Yankees can shut down the game from the fifth inning on. You lock down the game early. So employing the same concept for an “Opener” day is just as easy.
Send Jonathan Holder to “Open” the game and work an inning or two. Then follow him up with CC Sabathia for 3-4 innings. That gets you to the 4th or 5th inning of the game. Then you have the “Closer Contingent” at your disposal to close out the rest of the contest. We have already been told that it is a likely possibility. And this is just one example of how the Opener can work for the Yankees.