Pittsburgh Pirates: An Opener Should Be Considered For Johan Oviedo

May 12, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Johan Oviedo (24) adjust
May 12, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Johan Oviedo (24) adjust / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With his 1st inning woes continuing, should the Pittsburgh Pirates considering using an opener for Johan Oviedo?

In recent years the use of an opener has become a popular trend in Major League Baseball. For the most part, this is a trend that the Pittsburgh Pirates have not gotten in on. However, there is an argument to be made for the Pirates to use an opener with one of their starting pitchers.

In his first full MLB season, Johan Oviedo has had a bit of an up and down start to the season. Oviedo has flashed great stuff, while also working to introduce a sinking fastball to his repertoire. There has been one major issue for Oviedo, though.

That major issue for Oviedo has been the 1st inning. The majority of the damage that opposing batters have done against Oviedo has come in the 1st inning of starts. Due to this, it is worth opening the conversation up about potentially using an opener for Oviedo.

In 10 starts this season Oviedo has posted a 4.70 ERA and a 4.10 FIP in 53.2 innings pitched. Outside of back-to-back poor starts against the Washington Nationals and the Toronto Blue Jays, 13 of the 28 earned runs he’s allowed this season came in these two starts, Oviedo has consistently turned in strong starts. He owns a 10.1% walk rate, 19.4% strikeout rate, and has limited home runs to a 0.84 HR/9 rate.

The 1st inning problems for Oviedo have been a theme across each of this starts. Even in Oviedo’s 8 strong starts, he has run into some sort of 1st inning trouble in most of these starts.

Oviedo has allowed 16 runs on 16 hits, 5 doubles, and 4 home runs in the 1st inning this season. He has also walked 6 batters in the 1st inning of games. He’s allowed just 5 doubles, a single home run, and walked 19 batters outside of the 1st inning.

Some times pitchers can struggle with transitioning into the 1st inning of a game. The process of warming up to work as a starter for one reason or another can cause issues. Is that what’s plaguing Oviedo? Perhaps. If that’s the case it’s something that he would have to figure out with time. But in the meantime, an opener could benefit Oviedo and the Pirates.

It is hard to pinpoint what Oviedo’s 1st inning issues are. That is up to Oviedo, pitching coach Oscar Marin, and the Pirate coaching staff to figure out. Until then, or until these issues are fixed, it could worth using an opener when it’s Oviedo’s turn in the rotation.

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