You may recall that, earlier this season, much was made of the Rays’ decision to begin some games with a reliever — not a starter — on the mound. Back in May, when we wrote about it, Sergio Romo started two of three games against the Orioles and Ryne Stanek started the other.
Though the strategy hasn’t gained widespread acceptance yet, the Rays have had a bit of success with it, entering Wednesday’s action with a 57-56 record. They’re 9.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot, but it’s a gap that can feasibly be made up.
The Twins have noticed and are experimenting with the “opener” strategy at Double-A and Triple-A, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. Manager Paul Molitor said, “This thing has a chance to pick up legs across the game. You can’t argue with Tampa’s success. That’s for sure.” Molitor also said he has talked with the Twins’ front office about using the “opener” strategy in the big leagues this year. He said, “It wouldn’t surprise me if we did it.” In response to a question from a reader, Bollinger suggested the Twins could try the strategy with Trevor May in September.
Rockies reliever Seunghwan Oh recently said to the Yonhap News Agency that he wanted to return to South Korea to finish out his career. He has one year and $2.5 million remaining. His 2019 club option became guaranteed when he reached 70 appearances in the 2018 regular season. It sounded like Oh didn’t want to pitch for the Rockies next season. Oh said, “I am a bit exhausted after spending five seasons in Japan and the United States. I feel like I want to return to the KBO while I still have the energy to help the team and pitch in front of home fans. I can’t make this decision alone. I’ll have to speak with my agency about the next season.”
Rockies GM Jeff Bridich has a different sense of the situation, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Bridich said, “From what we have been told, it was much ado about nothing regarding Oh. His comments to the Korean media were not specifically about 2019. It was more about ending his career there. Our understanding is that he has every intention of honoring his current contract.”
Oh, 36, pitched 68 1/3 innings this past season between the Blue Jays (47 innings) and Rockies (21 1/3). In aggregate, he posted a 2.63 ERA with a 79/17 K/BB ratio in 68 1/3 innings. The Rockies have the bulk of their bullpen returning next year, save for Adam Ottavino who is a free agent.