For the second time in three days, the Yankees will use an opener. On Saturday night, New York trotted out Chad Green against the Red Sox, followed by Nestor Cortes Jr. and Chance Adams. Tonight, Jonathan Holder will get the ball to open the game against the Orioles.
This will mark Holder’s second ever “start”, as he opened a game against the Rays last September, walking two in one scoreless inning. The Yankees won that game 4-1 on the back of what ended up as one of their strongest pitching performances of the year. Seven pitchers followed Holder, combining for an overall line of nine innings, two hits, one run, and 13 strikeouts.
The Yankees will hope for a similar result as they try to turn Holder’s season around. The right-hander has a miserable 6.28 ERA on the year, albeit with four times as many strikeouts as walks. He also performed better after a demotion to Scranton, yielding four earned runs in 12.1 innings in Triple-A.
New York used a similar tact with Green, as most of Green’s best work this season came after the team began using him more consistently in an opener role. That may just be a coincidence, but it’s probably worth a shot with Holder, given that it would be hard for him to do much worse than he had in his traditional mid-to-late-inning role earlier this season.
In games started by an opener this year, the Yankees are 9-0. We’ll see if they can win a tenth-straight game with the strategy, and their seventh straight overall, soon enough, as game two of this series in Baltimore goes off at 7:05 ET.