The Rays were one of the teams at the forefront of the "opener" phenomenon in baseball, in which a reliever starts the game and gives way to a parade of relievers the remainder of the contest.
On Tuesday, the Yankees will use the tactic against Tampa Bay in a Spring Training exhibition at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Reliever Chad Green will start for New York, while Luis Cessa, who normally operates as a starter, will be available out of the bullpen.
Green was a starter during his junior season at Louisville in 2013 and for his first three seasons in the Minor Leagues. The right-hander has made nine starts for the Yankees in his career. Meanwhile, Cessa has started 19 games, with 24 relief appearances.
It's the first time New York has engaged in the practice, which gained relevance last season throughout the Major Leagues. The A's even employed the strategy during the AL Wild Card game against the Yankees last year.
With one of the Yankees' strengths being their bullpen arms, the tactic makes sense, especially with depth issues among their starting pitchers. Luis Severino will miss at least one month of the season and CC Sabathia will not be ready for Opening Day as he recovers from an offseason heart procedure, as well as knee surgery.
Kristie Ackert of the Daily News points out that lefty Gio Gonzalez, who the Yankees signed Monday to a Minor League deal, could be best-used as an opener, according to scouts.
Interestingly scouts saying Gio is ideal guy to use with an opener. #Yankees May be getting ready for that.- Kristie Ackert (@Ackert_Kristie) March 19, 2019