LA Angels to try another new pitching trend: The Piggyback Start
By David Rice
This is not your daddy’s or granddaddy’s baseball or even your momma’ s or grandmomma’s. The LA Angels have tried the opener strategy with some success this season, now they will try the Piggyback start.
What is a piggyback start you might ask? Well the strategy the LA Angels are trying Wednesday afternoon is one they have been using in the lower minor leagues and it involves using two starters back-to-back to hopefully pitch a whole game or at least get to the 7th or 8th inning.
This strategy is used to limit how many times a starter has to go through a batting order to two times hopefully and the reliever (who is usually a starter as well) can do the same in hopes of batters not getting too familiar with the pitcher. It also is maximizing the effectiveness of a given pitcher by not taxing him with too high of a pitch count.
In the case of today’s starter and piggyback starter Jaime Barria and Trevor Cahill it may be just what the doctor ordered. This is especially true of Cahill who is just coming off the injured list. Will this be a regular occurrence for Barria and Cahill? That will probably depend on the success of both pitchers today against Cincinnati.
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The Angels are desperate to find a way to use Trevor Cahill, who was signed as a free agent in the off-season, but has not produced the way the team or Cahill would have hoped. As for Barria he has been a mark of inconsistency. He has shown some promise in some starts, but been ineffective in other starts. This could be a one-time thing or it could become a regular scenario, or might now even happen at all today.
This piggyback start idea is one that may catch on with more teams if it is shown to be effective. This is not something you probably would have seen if Mike Scioscia was managing the Angels as he was more a traditionalist just like baseball was when he played, or when your parents and grandparents were growing up.
I often wonder how both my grandfathers would feel about the game they had loved since the 1920’s and 30’s would feel about the new methods that are being used especially in regards to pitchers. Gone are the days of Nolan Ryan throwing a 14 or 15 inning complete game with close to 200 pitches.
Complete games in general are becoming a rarity nowadays. Speciality relievers, the infield shift, instant replay, the opener, and now the piggyback start. I am for the most part am more of a baseball traditionalist, but I do understand the need for progress to a point and if it helps my team be more competitive than I am for it.
Now I do not believe in doing an opener or a piggyback start when it is not necessary. I don’t want to see Griffin Canning followed by Jose Suarez, just because. I’m anxious to see how it works out for Barria and Cahill tonight. Hopefully all goes well and most importantly the Angels get another victory and push back over the .500 mark going into a crucial four-game series against the Oakland A’s.