David Price notches 20th win, Johnny Cueto falls short

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With both of MLB’s remaining 19-game winners making their final starts today, we now know we’ll finish the year with four 20-game winners. The Rays’ David Price got to 20 by beating the White Sox today, but the Reds’ Johnny Cueto was left with a no-decision after allowing three runs — one earned — in seven innings in a no-decision against the Pirates.

Gio Gonzalez (21), R.A. Dickey (20) and Jered Weaver (20) had already reached the mark.

The four 20-game winners is the high total since 2008, when Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Mike Mussina and Brandon Webb all reached the plateau. There hasn’t been more than four since 2003, when Roy Halladay, Esteban Loaiza, Jamie Moyer, Russ Ortiz and Andy Pettitte made it five.

With pitching having made something of a comeback, there have been 10 20-game winners these last three seasons. Despite 2008’s total of four, there were a total of five 20-game winners in the four years from 2006-09.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.