The 2018 Tampa Bay Rays likely won’t be remembered as a team of greatness. They will win at least 87 games this season, perhaps as many as 92 – but they won’t be one of the ten teams in MLB that make the playoffs each year.
What they will more possibly be remembered for years from now was the invention of a new baseball term – an opener. Instead of doing what baseball teams normally have done for years in using a starting pitcher that is used for the bulk of the game, they came up with the idea of starting games with a relief pitcher who goes an inning or two – then continuously using relievers as the game wears on. They still have a few starters like Blake Snell, who broke the Rays club record with his 21st win a few days ago. Nonetheless, two or three times during their five-man rotation, they do not use “starting pitchers” in the strictest sense.
The strategy has paid dividends – they are second as of this writing in team earned-run average, only behind the Houston Astros. In the copycat world of sports, and particularly baseball, I can see other teams copying the Rays personnel maneuvering in seasons ahead. It also wouldn’t surprise me if a pitcher that wins 20 games or gets 300 strikeouts during the season also meets with eventual obsolescence.