On Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays used relief pitcher Sergio Romo as their starter. As it turns out, this will not be a one-time thing. Romo will also get the ball on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, the first pitcher in six years to start on consecutive days for his team.
First pitcher to start in back to back days since Zack Greinke in 2012 (who got ejected in the first inning and started the next day) https://t.co/c038XaJ2ed
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) May 20, 2018
Of course, Romo isn’t being used like a traditional starter. Statistically, the first inning is the hardest for pitchers. Given that the Angels lineup starts with three powerful right-handed bats (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, and Justin Upton), Tampa thought it wise to use Romo — who normally works against righties later in the game — in the first inning, then go to the regular “starter” in the second.
On Saturday, it worked like a charm, with Romo striking out Cozart, Trout, and Upton.
I am very entertained that the "Sergio Romo will be the opener" thing started out like this pic.twitter.com/mqx4Twu70D
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) May 20, 2018
Tampa seems at least committed to giving this strategy a fair chance. So, expect the Rays to do this more throughout the year. If it works, it will not be six years before we see this again.