Last week, the Tamap Bay Rays announced a brand new pitching approach to their rotation for their series against the Los Angeles Angels and they actually looked smart deploying it.
The new strategy, according to the Tampa Bay Times, has the Rays steering away from the traditional starting pitcher plans, and instead beginning the game with a late-inning reliever and then switching to their otherwise scheduled starter, with everything being based primarily on matchups.
“The way that their lineup stacks generally speaking is very heavy right-handed at the top,” manager Kevin Cash said when asked about the plan.
“It allows us in theory to let Sergio [Romo] to come in there and play the matchup game in the first, which is somewhat unheard of—up until Saturday anyway.”
“Then [Ryan Yarbrough] can, in theory, have the availability to get deeper in the game. There’s no more secret about the third time through the order, everybody knows that. And that’s kind of what this is about.”
Veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo took the ball and started for the Rays, the first start in his career at age 35 and with 588 career appearances prior to Saturday.
After an effective 1st inning, Romo turned the ball to Ryan Yabrough who went out and pitched 6.1 innings of one-run ball en route to a 5-3 Rays victory.
It was announced that Romo would start again on Sunday.
”I’m sure it will be talked about, but hopefully it works,” Cash said.
”We’ll just kind of see how the first inning, first two innings play out,” Cash said.
Romo again took the mound against the Angels on Sunday faced the first six batters, getting four outs while becoming the first pitcher in 38 years to last at least one inning in back-to-back starts.
Romo would eventually give way to Matt Andriese.
“For me, my preparation didn’t really change too much,” Romo said after the game (h/t ESPN). “The only difference was the timing. Typically, you get the call, and two minutes later, you’re in the game. Warming up on the field is different.”
Cash’s unusual strategy drew mixed results, and stated that the plan will be modified in the coming weeks meaning that the Rays will use this method, in some form, moving forward.
“The one thing that was odd was going onto an unscathed mound,” Romo said. “I was like, `Whoa, what is this?’ I kind of had to kick it out a little so I could get that bump in the middle that I’m used to.”