Jesse Chavez will start for the Texas Rangers against the Houston Astros in Saturday’s game, Ranger manager Chris Woodward announced tonight, per the beat guys on Twitter. The righthanded Chavez will presumably be an opener for lefthanded Drew Smyly, whose turn it is to start tomorrow.
This is a situation where an opener makes a lot of sense. Smyly is a lefthander who has faced 15 batters twice this season, and 20 batters three times. The idea behind the opener is to have him face the first 4-6 batters, then let the regular starting pitcher plan on facing roughly 20-25 batters. That means that, when your tiring starter is facing batters for the third time, he’s doing so against the bottom of the order, rather than the top.
In addition, in the case of the Astros, the top of their order is laden with hitters that mash lefties, so bringing in Chavez to face that part of the order means those guys will face a righthander, rather than a lefthander, initially. That said, righties have a 1280 OPS against Chavez this season, compared to a 657 OPS for lefties. However, I don’t think it’s anticipated Chavez will continue to have reverse splits.