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Bill Shaikin: Wall Street Baseball heading for a bust on opener pitching strategy?

Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

ATLANTA — The Dodgers boast a long and distinguished lineage of Game 1 starters: Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Don Sutton, Hall of Famers all. Clayton Kershaw, a Hall of Famer in waiting. Orel Hershiser, Tommy John, Fernando Valenzuela, Zack Greinke, Burt Hooton, Jerry Reuss and Walker Buehler, a constellation of All-Stars.

The starting pitcher for the Dodgers on Saturday, in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves: Corey Knebel.

What in the name of Tommy Lasorda is going on?

First things first: Max Scherzer would have started Saturday, had he not closed Thursday. The Dodgers decided to give Scherzer an extra day of rest and, well, someone had to start.

Tony Gonsolin could have. Knebel was not a starter in the minor leagues, or even in college. The Dodgers decided a reliever getting the first three outs was their best path to getting them all.

Knebel was the Dodgers’ opener, at a time Major League Baseball is exploring whether to put a close on the era of the opener.

 

Wall Street Baseball is the quest to find and exploit even the tiniest of advantages. Just win, baby, and who cares about the aesthetics?

The Tampa Bay Rays invented Wall Street Baseball. Their baseball department puts a good team on the field. Their marketing department cannot persuade fans to come see the team.

The Rays might say their low revenue gives them no other option. What worries the league — and the players’ union — is that too many teams might try to copy this aspect of the Rays’ winning ways.

“From a fan’s perspective and baseball as a whole,” Scherzer said Saturday, “if you look at it more from the game outside and say, ‘Is this something that ... we want the game to go into? Do we want to see this in the regular season?’ my answer is no.

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