With the makeup of the starting rotation coming out of spring training looking somewhat arbitrary, should the A’s consider starting the year using a six-man rotation? Gallagher did not impress, during the spring, but his numbers were about as good as the five guys who were named starters. Pitching in baseball today is controlled by pitch counts and total number of innings pitched. Especially, when a team is looking at a bunch of young arms and restricting them to 180 innings on a season.
If you work every sixth game, you will have 27 starts during a full season. In a five-man rotation each pitcher has 33 starts. Those extra six starts are what give young arms too many innings. If you average six innings a start and have 27 starts, you end up with 162 innings. At 33 starts you have 198, and teams don’t want young arms having that many innings.As was pointed out a few days ago in the post “What is going to happen sometime around July?” none of our pitchers have ever approached 200 innings.
Player, IP 2008, IP 2007
Braden 124.3, 148.1
Eveland 189.0, 37.2 (132.2 2006)
Anderson 105.0, 120.1
Gallagher 143.4, 115.4
Outman 122.6, 159.1
G. Gonzalez 157.0, 150.0
Cahill 124.1, 114.1
It could make since to keep their innings down until they are old enough to rent a car. Furthermore, if by chance the A’s are still playing in October, it could add another 20+ innings to our young starters arms. If our target were 180 innings on the season and we begin in a five-man rotation they will rack up too many innings and will therefore not be useful in October. If they start in a six-man rotation, then they will have 20 innings, or three starts, left for October.
There are some problems with a six-man rotation, but they might not apply as much to the 2009 A’s. One problem is that your best pitcher pitchers less often in exchange for starts by a lesser pitcher. OK, who exactly is our best pitcher and who is a lesser pitcher? Has anyone seen the dartboard lately? Another objection could be that a six-man rotation knocks pitcher off of their routine. Again, I think that might be a bigger issue with a 10-year veteran than with a 10-start veteran. Actually, almost all of the teams in Japan use a six-man rotation. I don’t think there is any biological magic about 5 days.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that a six-man rotation will result in a six-man bullpen. This could be a concern, but again I am not sure it has to be. All the starters normally have a throwing routine of 20-30 pitches on a day halfway between their starts. One option would be to have a starter available each day in the bullpen for long relief, which would take the place of their side session. If they don’t get used then they can still throw in the bullpen. The 4 guy would end up covering for the 1 guy; the 5 guy would be available when the 2 guy is starting and so on. That way some of the wasted wear and tear that normally happens on off days would actually eat some innings.
Do you believe the pitching staff should consider using a six-man rotation?