ST. PETERSBURG Orlando Cepeda Jersey , Fla. (AP) Out by out, the Tampa Bay Rays are revamping the roles of major league pitchers. style and buying into baseball’s analytical movement to transform themselves from perennial losers to playoff contenders, the budget-minded franchise is trying to reinvent itself through unconventional means.Welcome to the dawn of the ”opener” and ”bullpen days,” which the Rays have used to overcome a dearth of starting pitching to rebound from the worst 17-game stretch to begin a season in team history.It’s a world where long-time relievers Sergio Romo and Jonny Venters made the first starts of their major league careers, and the Rays used 30 different pitchers – seven of them rookies who combined for 39 starts – through their first 106 games.”It’s still early, but I think we found out that it does benefit some pitchers,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.Depending on matchup, the Rays may use an ”opener” to face three to six batters to begin a game.A ”bullpen day” starter, by comparison, generally pitches deeper into games though usually no more than twice through an opposing team’s lineup.”I think some of our young starters have been benefited by not having to face that first four or five hitters in the lineup,” Cash said. ”I give a lot of credit to those guys for buying into a unique approach that’s been talked about a lot,” Cash said. ”It’s nice that they have come together, embraced it, and I think enjoyed it to some extent. When it goes well, it’s a lot of fun.”The ”opener” debuted May 19, when Romo made the first start of an 11-year big league career after 588 relief appearances. Since then, the Rays have the major leagues’ second-best ERA.In all, they’ve used an ”opener” 24 times, going 11-13 in those games. Additionally, there have been 19 ”bullpen days” in which the team has gone 9-10.Tampa Bay is averaging 4.3 innings per starter, by far the fewest in the major leagues, according to Baseball Info Solutions. Toronto is 29th at 5.27 innings.”It definitely is different. It definitely is outside the box. But the way it’s all been pieced together, it’s almost turning into our normal,” said Romo, who more recently has re-settled into a more customary role as a closer http://www.stlouiscardinalsteamshop.com/authentic-keith-hernandez-jersey ,Rookie Ryne Stanek, for the most part, has flourished as an opener, holding opponents scoreless in 12 of 15 starts, including four in which he didn’t allow a hit. Venters, who made 244 appearances as a reliever before making his first major league start in early June, did not fare as well in his only outing as an opener. The 33-year-old was traded last week to Atlanta.”Ryne Stanek definitely has benefited from that role,” Cash said. ”It’s amazing every day how much buy-in we get. We know we’re doing some unique things. and some questionable things that people scratch their head at, but these pitchers do a tremendous job of buying in.”Good, young starting pitching was among the keys to a stretch of four postseason appearances over six years under Maddon, including two AL East titles and an improbable run to the 2008 World Series.This season’s unorthodox approach to dividing the workload was born of necessity.Cash expected to break spring training with a four-man rotation of Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi and Jake Faria, while using the bullpen to cover days that would require a fifth starter.The ”opener” was added to the mix help the manager cope with injuries that at times left the Rays with three – and sometimes just two – healthy starters.”I get it. It makes some sense, especially when they have some starters down. … A little unconventional, and I don’t think necessarily ideal, but I certainly get it,” New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.”You do what gives you the best chance to win, regardless,” Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter echoed. ”They’re doing it because they don’t have any starting pitchers.”While Cash concedes it’s still too early to draw any conclusions about the potential effectiveness long-term – or whether other clubs will be intrigued enough to follow Tampa Bay’s lead – the strategy nevertheless has helped the Rays stay afloat following a 4-13 start.The team is 49-40 in 89 games since April 18 and 53-53 overall entering a nine-game homestand that begins Tuesday.That’s despite using 30 pitchers season, tying a franchise single-season record.And, with 14 different starting pitchers – six more than all of last year – the Rays have matched the number the club had the previous three seasons combined.”I can be completely candid and honest. When it works, it feels pretty good when it’s happening. But when it doesn’t, it’s pretty gut-wrenching,” Cash said after one game in which the results were not pretty.The Rays have had enough success that they’ve begun experimenting with openers in the minor leagues.Could others in the majors be open to trying it Bob Gibson Jersey , too?”Baseball is kind of a copycat game. It depends on how it all plays out,” Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. ”I don’t like (using relievers that way). But everybody’s got to do what they got to do with what they have, and what they want to do.”The Rays, meanwhile, are focusing on themselves.”We’re not necessarily looking to get credit. We probably don’t want to get bashed, either, for it,” Cash said.”But every decision we make, there’s a lot of thought that goes into it. We’re not throwing something up against the wall,” the manager added. ”This is an opportunity that presented itself with so many young pitchers, and it is nice to see it play out when we have success.”—AP freelance writer Mark Didtler contributed to this report.— TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin picked a great year to have a great year.Corbin will be one of the most coveted free agents in the majors this winter, and entering the market after a career year is never a bad plan.He will bring a 10-5 record and a 3.06 ERA into his 29th start of the season Friday in the second game of a four-game series against Atlanta at Chase Field. The Braves will counter with right-hander Kevin Gausman (9-9, 3.78 ERA).Article continues below ...Atlanta won the series opener, although it was not easy. The Braves took a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning, lost a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth on a Paul Goldschmidt game-tying homer, and rallied for a 7-6, 10-inning victory to avoid a second straight difficult loss. The Braves lost a six-run lead in the eighth and a one-run lead in the ninth in a 9-8 loss to Boston at home on Wednesday.“I tell you what it speaks to, the makeup of that team in there,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said, nodding toward the clubhouse. “The resiliency. The fight. The grit. It speaks volumes. After what we experienced (Wednesday) and to potentially get your heart ripped out again … and those guys pulled off a win.”The Braves increased their NL East lead to 3 1/2 games while the Diamondbacks fell 2 1/2 games behind NL West-leading Colorado. The Diamondbacks have lost five of six and will look to Corbin to turn it around.Corbin, 29, is third in the NL with a career-high 214 strikeouts, trailing only Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. Corbin is averaging 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings, second in the NL http://www.stlouiscardinalsteamshop.com/authentic-willie-mcgee-jersey , and his 5.2-to-1 ratio of strikeouts to walks is third.About all he has lacked this season is consistent run support.Those numbers probably would have translated into more victories had he received more than an average of 4.04 runs per start. Corbin has turned it up down the stretch, having given up as many as four runs only twice in his last 13 starts. Nine of those were quality starts.Corbin was chosen to make his first Opening Day start this season, threw a one-hit shutout in his fourth start and kept rolling. He recently tied Miguel Batista’s team record for starters by going 11 consecutive starts without giving up a home run. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said he was impressed by the offseason commitment Corbin showed after going 14-13 with 4.03 ERA in 2017.“It’s not a surprise to me — it is what he had in him,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said of Corbin’s year.“The type of offseason, work-wise, that he had was leading me to believe he was prepared physically for the season. Emotionally is always a wild card. You just don’t know where they are going from a mindset standpoint. But fundamentally I knew that he was going to be locked in.“It was a big year for him personally for a lot of different reasons. I know he wanted to contribute to this team the best that he could. My conversations with him, they seemed very directed and pointed toward a healthy year. When he was named the Opening Day starter, I think it took him emotionally to a whole new level.”Gausman, the fourth player taken in the 2012 draft, has pitched like it since joining the Braves in a July 31 deadline deal with Baltimore, a trade that also brought reliever Darren O’Day in exchange for a package of four minor league players and international bonus pool money.After a few minor tweaks to his approach, Gausman has posted a 4-1 record and a 1.66 ERA is six starts for Atlanta, including four quality starts. He has given up as many as three earned runs only once. In 38 innings, he has given up 26 hits and has 26 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .190 batting average.“They’ve made some adjustments,” Snitker said. “I think they did something with the delivery. Our system, the game-planning, has benefited him. He’s another one who has really fit in great here. He’s been really, really good for us.”Gausman was 5-8 with a 4.43 ERA in 21 starts with the Orioles, where he spent his previous five seasons.The Braves control him for one more year before possible free agency.Gausman has never faced the Diamondbacks.Corbin has made five quality starts in his last six appearances, and he threw five scoreless innings against the Dodgers in the one game he did not, receiving a no-decision in a 3-2 loss last Saturday in Los Angeles. He had 48 strikeouts against four walks in that span.Corbin faced Atlanta in their first series this season, giving up six hits and four runs in six innings of a 5-1 loss on July 15, the final game before the All-Star break. Corbin was named to the NL All-Star team but did not pitch in the game. He is 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA in eight career appearances (six starts) against Atlanta. That is Corbin’s lowest ERA against any opponent he has faced more than once.