Athletics

Athletics

LAS VEGAS -- Love it or hate it, the opener isn't going anywhere.

After experimenting with the strategy of starting a relief pitcher in September, not to mention the AL Wild Card Game, the A's plan to continue employing it next season.

"Yeah, I think that is here to stay," manager Bob Melvin told reporters Tuesday. "I think we're used to it, so to speak. And you're seeing other teams do it, too. I think you'll see more of it next year."

General manager David Forst added: "I think it may continue to be a necessity going forward. It's not easy to find starting pitching. We are exploring all avenues, but I think we recognize that there are different ways to get 27 outs and we're going to have to consider all of them." 

Oakland primarily used right-hander Liam Hendriks in the opener role last season. He figures to be a logical choice again next year after signing a new one-year, $2.15 million deal last month.

"I think depending on who we identify as guys we need to get innings from and then maybe if there's some vulnerability with some other guys, maybe that's the route we go as far as the opener," Melvin explained.

The Tampa Bay Rays were the first team to start using an opener last season. Since then, the trend has grown beyond just Oakland.

 

As Melvin mentioned, more and more teams are open to the idea, no pun intended. Even Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he would consider the strategy next season.

The opener certainly makes sense for a team like the A's, who boast an incredibly strong bullpen while lacking depth in the starting rotation. If they can work out some of the kinks, the tactic could ultimately prove quite successful.

Just ask the Rays.