The Rays appear to be moving away from the concept of an opener, though they aren’t eliminating it. Just look at the names they have either locked into the rotation are battling for a spot:
- Charlie Morton
- Blake Snell
- Tyler Glasnow
- Brendan McKay
- Yonny Chirinos
- Ryan Yarbrough
It’s that last spot that could create an interesting opportunity, but could either of these two assume a regular rotation spot? Even if they did is there enough upside worth considering? Let’s take a look:
Chirinos made 26 appearances in the Majors in ’19, including 18 starts, posting a 3.85 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 133.1 IP. He was actually better as a starter, showing enough in the skills that we look for:
- Strikeouts – 7.94 K/9
- Control – 1.98 BB/9
- Groundballs – 45.2%
Of course outside of his control neither skill stands out, and a 1.55 HR/9 and having benefited from a .246 BABIP cause obvious concerns. Throw in a 4.29 ERA the second time through the batting order and it’s easy to envision him struggling if thrown into the rotation. It’s not to say that Chirinos can’t figure it out, but it doesn’t seem likely he’s even given the opportunity to do so.
It’s interesting but Yarbrough seems simply like he’s a left-handed version of Chirinos. He tossed 141.2 innings in the Majors last season, including 14 starts, and showed a similar skillset:
- Strikeouts – 7.46 K/9
- Control – 1.16 BB/9
- Groundballs – 44.5%
He didn’t have the same home run issues (0.95 HR/9 overall), though it wouldn’t be surprising if that presented itself as well. The difference is that he was solid both the first (3.86 ERA) and second (2.62 ERA) times through the lineup, which would indicate that maybe he could stick in the rotation as he also was able to limit the hard contact (31.0%).
At the same time it’s easy to envision him being exposed if he’s asked to take the ball every five days. There isn’t enough upside, especially since the control will likely regress, to put him on radars.
The fact is that while both Chirinos and Yarbrough have potential, but neither of them are good bets to thrive if asked to start full-time. They are best utilized in similar roles that they saw in ’19, if not even being used a little bit less. Neither of them are prime candidates for fantasy owners, because neither are likely to run with a rotation spot. The opener isn’t disappearing, at least not for one of these two.
Source – Fangraphs