Well it’s happening. There has been speculation that the Giants would employ the opener strategy — using a reliever to start a game and eat up early innings — this season, ever since new VP of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi was hired in the winter. On Tuesday the Giants will give it a shot for the first time this season, starting reliever Nick Vincent vs. Toronto, according to multiple reports.
The Giants are using an opener tomorrow vs. Toronto. RHP Nick Vincent gets the start.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) May 13, 2019
Tyler Beede was originally supposed to start on Tuesday before the club updated their pitching probables on Monday. Using traditional starters, the Giants have been outscored 42-3 in the first inning this season.
The strategy, which rose to prominence last season and was heavily employed by the Rays and A’s, involves having a relief pitcher start the game and throw one or two innings, before a “starter” takes over to pitch the next five or six.
“As we look at our pitching staff, I think we have to think a little because of the uncertainty we have from a health standpoint,” Zaidi said before the season started. “We’re going to have to explore different forms of pitching staff construction, whether that’s using openers or whether that’s having kind of tandem days where you have two pitchers each throwing three or four innings and taking down the majority of the game. I think we’re going to have to develop a plan for the pitching staff that fits the personnel that we have.”
“I think you have to be open-minded on really all the new things that are happening in baseball, and the success maybe a team or two has had doing that,” Bochy said around the same time. “If you’re in that situation your roster is going to dictate whether you may have to use an opener, your pitching staff, how strong are you as far as your five starters.
“Whoever did this the first time you’ve got to give them credit, but if they have success and you look at what they did I think you have to be open-minded because you can get in that situation. Of course Oakland did it, other teams have followed. I will say it’s probably a little bit easier in the American League than in the National League.”
Vincent has a 2.25 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 14 appearances this season.