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Twins have been experimenting with ‘opener’ strategy

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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.

MLBPA proposes 114-game season, playoff expansion to MLB

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.

Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.

If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.

Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.