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  1. This is something I suggested to Rob Neyer years ago, and he ignored me.

    I suggested / thought if there were 12 pitchers on a staff, you could use four to six per game at two innings each, you’d have more fresh pitchers available and more ability to manage a game and keep your opponents confused. Your team could benefit from having your ace pitcher start 2/3rds of the games for 2 innings each – same number pitched, but it gives you the chance to get ahead in a game more often. Many lineups improve the second time through the order, so wouldn’t it make sense to prevent this a bit?

    Anyway, I can understand if it sounds stupid, because there is probably some logical reason I don’t understand as to why a pitcher has to throw this many innings, this many pitches, etc.. I mean, beyond “that’s how it’s always done”. Right?

    I suspect I’m completely wrong but I never understood why.

    Comment by Radivel — June 20, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  2. This is an interesting experiment but I think it will fail miserably.

    What I would rather see is a manager that is starting an extreme ground ball pitcher trying a 5 man infield with 2 speedy outfielders.

    Comment by Danked — June 20, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

  3. Doing something that rigid makes it hard to take advantage of match-ups and leverage. You’d either need to have a bullpen full of guys who can get out both LHBs and RHBs (harder to find than you might think) or you’ll be giving up the platoon advantage in critical situations because you need the pitcher on the mound to work a couple of full innings, regardless of who is due up.

    There are also going to be scenarios where the game gets out of hand early, and you’re better off just giving your good pitchers the night off to save them for stretches where you have multiple close games in a row. By not having anyone on staff who can just soak up innings, you’ll end up reallocating innings that have no impact on wins and losses to your better pitchers in order to keep everyone on their strict usage patterns.

    There are positives and negatives to such an approach. Doesn’t make it stupid, but ideally, you want a plan that minimizes the drawbacks.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — June 20, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

  4. I don’t understand what your objection is to “the Rockies’ way”, Dave. In your article all I notice is your doubts about their personnel and park.

    Comment by Richie — June 20, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

  5. They should consider pre-pairing up a middle reliever with each starter who comes in for 2 innings every 4th day. Ideally, different handed. Then that player would also be available for an inning or so when they are two days away from their “slot”. Or would having 7 of your pitchers basically being “unavailable” be too much if the game went extras?

    Comment by Brian — June 20, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

  6. not everyone like coors light, dude

    Comment by juan pierres mustache — June 20, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

  7. Somewhere, Joe Maddon’s ears perk up.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — June 20, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

  8. With the Nationals, I advocated filling the fifth starter spot with a hard “two-starter” system where one guy does 5 and the next guy does 4 each time.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — June 20, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

  9. In each game, that is. So game 5 of the rotation is always two SPs with third-time-through-the-order issues who combine for a CG.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — June 20, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  10. Their personnel has been far and away the worst staff in baseball. I think that warrants doubt

    Comment by agam22 — June 20, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  11. I think the ideal staff would be three traditional starters who can eat up 200-250 innings a year. Guys like Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, etc . . . exist and as such they should be utilized in a way that best allows them to use their value.

    Then you would still have four and five starters (to give your other three starters the proper rest), but you would allocate them three innings each before going to the bullpen in those games. So rather than have a strict fourth and fifth starter, you would have a variety of guys who could fill those roles, depending on who was fresh. In the end, I think you would have nine other bullpen guys, pitching between 80-110 innings per year.

    But it would also be best to not be too strict about that set up either. I mean if you could gamble on putting Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Oswalt on a roster together with the hope they all they stay healthy, having four starters of that caliber is still likely to pay dividends given the added flexibility it gives your bullpen. It’s just that three traditional starters, somewhere between average and great, seems a possibility for most teams given the quantity of such pitchers in the league.

    Comment by Crumpled Stiltskin — June 20, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

  12. This is going to work so poorly, which will be hilarious, and then it will be a decade before anyone tinkers with starting-pitcher usage patterns, which will be terrible.

    Comment by byron — June 20, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  13. It doesn’t have to be super rigid, I’m sorry if that’s how I meant it, I just meant to break the mold of 5 starters, 7IP each. Switch it sideways a bit, make it more like the AS Game in a series than not.

    Anyway, your reasoning makes sense, I just thought that with a lot of thought, something of the sort could be done to great benefit instead of the current “established” method, in case it wasn’t the best one; which is something I’ll always consider.

    Comment by Radivel — June 20, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

  14. The Nats are already doing this (sort of). Chien-Min Wang starts, records 16 or fewer outs, and gives way to Ross Detwiler who then goes for a couple of innings. Now I don’t know that this is entirely by design, but it is happening.

    Comment by David — June 20, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  15. How about an early minor league style piggy backing rotation?

    8 “starters” who work off each other. 4 pairs of 2 (obviously), where one starts, the other relieves, for 3-4 innings each. You have another 3-4 situational guys, a closer, RH and LH set up man, and a long man if someone gets hurt, or is off. Same 12 man staff, but different set up.

    Comment by Rudegar — June 20, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

  16. The Red Sox should try this because they’re starters suck so much

    Comment by everdiso — June 20, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

  17. It seems like it would be more difficult to do in the NL since the pitcher must bat. Thus, you need a deeper bench for pinch hitters for the pitcher and defensive flexibility. This is based upon the assumption that this kind of strategy is going to require carrying more pitchers than normal. In the AL, you could afford to shorten your bench since it is more likely a player would play the entire game at one position (with the DH batting every time instead of needing to pinch hit for the pitcher-if that wasn’t obvious). Just a though. I like the experiment.

    FWIW, none of this will matter for the Rockies’ record-wise if Tulo isn’t playing.

    Comment by Randy — June 20, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

  18. The Rockies’ staff and park will affect their raw numbers regardless of whether they stick with their restructuring or not.

    Heck, if all they’re hoping for is numerical improvement, they ought to get some of that just from regression to the mean.

    Comment by Richie — June 20, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  19. I watch little enough TV that it took me a bit to get this one. :-) Sorta. As it’s not all that much a knee-slapper.

    Comment by Richie — June 20, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

  20. I don’t think it’s true that “the entirety of the rotation’s improvement would have to be based on each pitcher getting to face opposing hitters fewer teams within the same game”.

    Another benefit is that whoever the 5th starter is is probably terrible and he is not part of the rotation. He becomes a reliever of either high leverage if he’s good as a reliever and low leverage if he’s not.

    I think the big problem with rotations is that there is such a difference in the quality and durability of starting pitchers that it’s tough to shoehorn them all into a “one size fits all” system. The 5 man rotation works because it accommodates those who can pitch into the 7th/8th regularly and also accommodates 5 inning pitchers by having relievers available in any game situation. Anything that reduces the flexibility of managers’s use of relievers is going to cause problems IMO.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — June 20, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  21. Dave,

    Any educated guesses as to what a better rotation construct might be? Is there a good way to research this?

    Comment by Jarjets89 — June 20, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

  22. That’s a really interesting idea. Would the opposite also make sense, such as having 4 outfielders with a guy like Ted Lilly (career 34% GB rate) or Phil Hughes (35%), or maybe with relievers that have even more extreme fly ball tendencies, like Tyler Clippard (28%) or Ernesto Frieri (24%)?

    Comment by Fletch — June 20, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

  23. Wasn’t there an idea years ago (maybe from Jim Leyland?) That you could have a 9 man staff and use 3/day for about 3 innings each? Maybe one or two extra guys as relievers/loogy’s or for extra innings or injury. They wouldn’t be overworked – each would pitch about 162 innings – you could flip righties and lefties to make it difficult for the other manager to platoon and it would be very rare for a pitcher to have to face a hitter more than twice. I don’t know if he wants to do this now with Verlander at his disposal but it was an interesting idea.

    Comment by MikeS — June 20, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

  24. What about going with a 2-3 inning model–still allowing for deviation in order to maximize platoon splits–as a default, and then for games that get out of hand (thus decreasing the potential leverage that your best pitchers would exert on a game) bring in an “emergency long guy” (I’m thinking Barry Zito) who is kept fresh for situations where innings just need to be consumed.

    Comment by Matt — June 20, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

  25. In all seriousness, the Royals are already doing this and proving that it won’t work (in terms of winning games that is).

    I actually support the concept, but like Dave said I think you would need a hell of a lot more pitchers than they are planning for. In fact, I think for it to really work, you’d need to basically have a catcher who can get you some garbage innings in losses, and Jorge Bonifacio on your bench. Then you’d have 14 pitchers in the AL and 15 in the NL (one more if you add the garbage inning catcher). But in the NL you would need to have a bunch of pitchers who can hit. In fact, you would probably benefit by having at least a few position players who can get high quality innings for you. A guy like Joe Savery would have legit two-way value in this scenario.

    The bottom line is that for a shift like this to take place, it’s a total gimmick. That doesn’t mean it can’t work, but simply reducing pitch totals a little bit for a bunch of crappy starters is not going to matter. There are two choices. Either you have good starting pitching with a conventional rotation, or a huge staff that could include position players who have one good pitch they can get people out with or pick up garbage innings, and where you can play matchups potentially throughout the game. I think if you could double the Royals bullpen and give Joe Madden the reigns, he could win 90 games.

    Comment by Paul — June 20, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

  26. Props to Jim Tracy. Don’t know why we never see more Managers for bad teams throw caution to the wind and try something new to try and win. There plenty of ideas someone could come up with that seem crazy, but wouldn’t hurt for someone to try! For example:

    - as metioned above, more 5 infielder defenses for groundball pitchers, and 4 OF defenses for FB pitchers.
    - moving a good defensive SS to 2B against LH batters and back to SS against RH batters.
    - For a team without a good DH option, they could DH their normal 1B, and start a LH pitcher at 1st base. Then that pitcher could face lefties and the right handed “starter” could face the righties. Hell, I think the Athletics could use that now.
    - and of course, teams could get more creative with their pitching staff philosophy than what they are now, as has been mentioned above.

    I don’t know what teams don’t try more creative stuff like that. If I was the manager for a team like the Royals or Padres, I would try every crazt idea I could think of.

    Comment by Jeff Mathis does Steroids. — June 20, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

  27. LaRussa tried something like this very late in his A’s tenure, I believe in the latter part of a lost season.

    Comment by Richie — June 20, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

  28. I think back around 2005 Baseball Prospectus advocated using a four man rotation but limiting their pitch count to a strict 90- 100. The thinking being that pitcher fatigue set in somewhere between 90 and 100 pitches depending whether you are Pedro Martinez or Roger Clemens. The idea was that since your fifth starter is usually below average you could take Away his innings and just go with your top four and then have 8 pitchers in the bullpen to mix and match over the last 3 or four innings. I like Tracy’s idea but I think the pitch counts are to low at 75. My guess is that if they have any success with it they will up the pitch limit for starters to at least ninety as the starters acclimate.

    Comment by whatever — June 20, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

  29. No reason you’d have to go through this much rigamaroll. Your 1-inning guys just have to now become 2-inning guys, and your LOOGY/ROOGYs will have to work their way through a few more hitters where they don’t have the platoon advantage.

    Comment by Richie — June 20, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

  30. And someone hijacks the thread with a reasonable proposal. You cur!

    Comment by Richie — June 20, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

  31. Right. What are you going to do if your starters are through 6 innings, they’ve given up 1 or 2 hits and they’re at 75-80 pitches? You’re gonna pull him?

    Comment by fangs — June 20, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

  32. This has the potential of being a perfect experiment for Coors. And FINALLY!!!

    The biggest problem for pitchers at altitude is that the lower air density (18% lower than sea level) kills breaking balls. Lower air density means less Magnus effect. Simple physics. Pitchers who rely on breaking stuff (and most do) compensate by “trying harder”. And since pitching in all of MLB pretty much requires 100% effort because of the level of competition – adding 18% extra force to each breaking ball thrown merely results in higher injury rates (to precisely the elbows/shoulders/wrists that are stressed by breaking stuff anyway) and longer recovery time. Coors is rough on pitchers – and it’s not just the mental aspect re the home run ball.

    Reducing the number of pitches per outing (at Coors) is one very solid way of keeping the starting rotation healthy over the course of the season. And the extra long relievers the Rockies will need are generally much cheaper than starters – and more likely to have a repertoire limited to the pitches that do work at Coors (fastballs, changups, sinkers, cutters, etc).

    I have been advocating a change to a six-man rotation (with one of the starters being a pure Coors-only pitcher – a #4/5 starter who has a repertoire that fits Coors and who is thus more valuable to the Rockies than to other teams) – with two long relievers – and get rid of some of the one-inning-and-out relievers that plague bullpen management and make it impossible to pitch a full seasons worth of innings.

    Personally, I see this experiment not as a final experiment – but as a starting experiment given their current rotation/bullpen. They will see how it works at Coors and on the road – and then they will switch to a different four-man rotation at home than the one on the road — adding up to six starters. And then finally be able to figure out what sorts of pitchers to target in future trades/drafts for the Rockies. At least that’s how it could ideally work. More likely unfortunately, they are simply doing this because they not only have a bad rotation – they also have one of the most-unsuited-for-Coors pitching staffs in MLB. Which is a real problem when that’s your home field).

    Comment by jfree — June 20, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

  33. @rudegar- would you really wanna do that if you had Justin Verlander or Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. Pitching any of those guys for four innings once every 4 days would be a disservice. That’s162 innings per year per guy. That does not even get into giving subpar pitchers 4 innings at a time.

    Comment by whatever — June 20, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  34. A “platoon advantage” in most parks derives from breaking balls – ie a slider thrown by a lefty has a different platoon effect depending on the batters handedness. Coors itself, because of altitude, negates much of the value of breaking balls – all breaking balls – and any platoon split there is going to be based simply on the effectiveness of their other pitches.

    There are plenty of pitchers who just don’t have very good breaking balls – but who have a good repertoire of changeups, sinkers, cutters, splitters, etc – the pitches that mess with the timing of a batter’s swing (regardless of handedness) rather than relying purely on ball location to mess with the batter. the Rockies have never really figured this out – and have thus not ever gone hard after the pitchers who really can pitch well at Coors without the standard “platoon splits” meme getting in the way.

    But regardless – shorter outings will always work better at Coors than elsewhere because it can maximize fastball velocity and give batters fewer chances to “figure things out” with a particular pitcher.

    Comment by jfree — June 20, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

  35. The last team to try a four man rotation was the Royals in the early ninetees. I t worked well for awhile. I think Kevin Appier, Tom Gordon, and Mark Gubicza were three of the four pitchers. It worked well four the start of the season but eventually the starters got injured or overworked so they scratched it. It was not as much the four man rotation as it was the 125 and 135 pitch, pitch counts that doomed them.

    Comment by whatever — June 20, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

  36. Nice article, thanks for pointing out this interesting experiment. Like you and the others, I think it is doomed to failure, but I like that a manager is willing to think differently and applaud Tracey for trying something.

    I think it might work better if he had some pitchers who were actually good, maybe 2 who would get to pitch as long as they can, 2 who are limited to 75 pitches, plus a bullpen ready to fill in as needed. And I agree that a park like Colorado’s is probably not a venue conducive to such an experiment.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — June 20, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

  37. The Mets had Jesse Orosco (lefty) and Roger McDowell (righty) in the mid eighties. They served as like co-closers. They at least messed around with having them both in the game at the same time putting one in right field while the other pitched to a batter of the same handedness.

    Comment by whatever — June 20, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

  38. because the idea isn’t totally terrible in and of itself, it’s the fact that the rockies don’t have good enough pitchers to pull it off

    Comment by jim — June 20, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

  39. And the Blue Jays are just stacked with starters right now with Morrow and Drabek on the DL and Romero pitching like a third starter on the Sox. Kinda like the pot calling the Kettle black isn’t it everdiso. Oh yeah and by the way if the Doubront beats the Marlins tonight the Jays end up back in the cellar

    Comment by whatever — June 20, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

  40. They did sign one pitcher this year who actually has a great pitching repertoire for Coors. Unfortunately, he was 49 years old and that creates its own problem.

    Comment by jfree — June 20, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

  41. The best system has got to be some sort of hybrid.

    Maybe you have 3 pitchers who are solid to great starters, so you let them start every 5 days and hopefully pitch about 200 innings. Then you’ll need a handful of guys of low to medium quality who are capable of pitching to 18 batters or so and then another 2-4 short inning relievers, hopefully 2 of pretty good quality. You use the 18 batter guys flexibly… that’s the key. They’ll see some action in games 1-3, and then you use 2-3 of them at a time to cover games 4 and 5. And you also mix and match your short relievers depending on situation and rest/availability. The best 2 short relievers can be used in the highest leverage situations whenever they occur.

    It will require more micromanagement than is currently necessary, but smart planning and coaching should be able to keep things rolling. If you book the starters for 600 innings and a few of the longmen for 120-140, it’s actually not hard to get to 1458 with a 12 man staff, and it could be done with 11.

    The key I think is really the flexible use of a handful of guys who can face anywhere from 1-18 batters at a time, but probably average 12-15.

    Comment by BillWallace — June 20, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

  42. Following up on my own post, I did some minor bbref research but I don’t have all the data, but what I see is pretty clear. You just rarely see pitchers average anywhere from 8-22 batters faced. A guy like Verlander will lead the league with 28/g, and even terrible seasons by starters still usually end up in the 22-25/g range. Meanwhile how many relievers average more than 6? Practically none. Alfredo Aceves last year started 4 games, relieved 51, pitched 114 innings and faced 8.6/g… that’s got to be close to the max these days.

    So there’s an enormous unused portion of the spectrum from 8-22 bf/g. But yet 12-18 bf/g seems like it would be an excellent way to maximize the effectiveness of a guy who is now a mediocre starter (or would be if he weren’t currently relieving). He’s never going the 3rd time through the lineup, and the second time is variable depending on how he’s doing, matchups, game situation etc.

    Is there a reason why no pitchers are used this way? Would it be so difficult to devise a rest pattern that worked with this usage? Or is this a goldmine waiting to be tapped?

    Comment by BillWallace — June 20, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

  43. there’s nothing simple about physics!

    Comment by nscheer — June 20, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

  44. See Franklin Morales’ start against the Cubbies on Saturday

    Comment by whatever — June 20, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

  45. Yeah that was 19, which is great, but that always ends up being a one or two-off thing doesn’t it?

    Comment by BillWallace — June 20, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

  46. The most obvious problem with this idea is that the manager will be taking innings away from their better pitchers and giving them to their worst pitchers. There’s not one team in baseball that has more than 6 or 7 pitchers that should be trusted with 162 innings.

    Comment by chuckb — June 20, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

  47. One problem that may foul this up is that you’re still going to want to utilize relievers to take advantage of platoon splits in high leverage situations. You will, therefore, still have relievers who face 1-2 batters in a game. This will require either more relieverscon your roster or to have those lesser pitchers facing more hiiltters than is ideal.

    Comment by chuckb — June 20, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

  48. I don’t know — if you have a bunch of relievers who are used to getting three outs, asking them to regularly get six could be more problematic than one might think. Would be curious to see a study of situations where relievers had to be left in the game longer than anticipated (such as in the case of extra inning games) and how those relief outings fared compared to the pitcher’s “regular” or more traditional outings in terms of velocity, pitch location, batter outcomes, etc.

    Comment by M_Librarian — June 20, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

  49. The problem is “200 inning pitchers” don’t survive at Coors. The Rockies have burned through pitchers over the years trying to find “200 inning pitchers” – Pedro Astacio (1998-2000), Ubaldo Jimenez (2008-2010), Aaron Cook (2006,2008), Jeff Francis (2006-2007). In each case, the end result has been an injury or a broken pitcher. That will always be the result as long as the Rockies are trying to copy what every other team tries to get out of its pitchers – because pitching at altitude is far tougher than pitching anywhere else. FAR tougher.

    So the Rockies have to fill up their season’s quota of innings differently than every other team. I totally agree with you that the solution is more mid/long relievers — and far fewer useless one-inning guys (unless the Rockies are just going to allocate more roster space to pitching than anyone else). If they are starting with the wrong problem here, it’s probably because they are sellers this year and their one-inning guys may be the only thing they have to sell and they don’t want to break them by experimenting with them.

    Comment by jfree — June 20, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  50. @whatever I fully understand your point. One would not want to limit the truly elite pitcher. But how many of those guys are their? Also, think about how much they cost? A less conventional approach (though perhaps not as extreme as 4-6 guys every night) could give you almost as many high quality innings at a fraction of the cost. Further, it’s generally not the best idea to structure a strategy around needing to acquire a very rare commodity (Verlander, Halladay et al)…which is why I think a shift in pitching staff strategy could do some teams (esp. the poorer/cheaper ones)

    Comment by KDL — June 20, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

  51. Didnt LaRussa try something like that while he was coach in Oakland? Starters went three, gave way to bullpen, max each pitcher three innings, etc.. starters rotated normally, and bullpen.. got gassed.. cost some people there their arms (Matt Keogh, being the biggest name there, if I recall right).

    Comment by Cidron — June 20, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

  52. Several reasons they dont throw caution to the wind. Owners wanting max return on any investment, Players who want routine and paychecks, Player Agents who want their commission (based on their players earnings)..

    Comment by Cidron — June 20, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

  53. Biggest problem for this whole experiment is going to be, What happens when the starting pitcher doesn’t get out of the first inning (or second). Are you going to bring in your bullpen for 7-8 innings, and expect them to be able to continue to pile up 3-5 every night shortly after?

    Comment by Cidron — June 20, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

  54. I, too, like the physics-based approach to solving the Rockies pitching problems (and the pitching problems of all the teams that visit Coors Field). First, lets seal up the stadium and condition the air so that the ball doesn’t travel as far and move the fences in. If that fails, then let’s try pressurizing the air a bit. And if that doesn’t work, let’s build a new home stadium for the Rockies in Denver or its suburbs that is one mile underground. And if that doesn’t work, just move the team to a location that is closer to sea level.

    Comment by reillocity — June 20, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

  55. If you wanted another job in baseball, you wouldn’t employ more than one of those ideas…and probably not even the one. So, if you’re really curious about why guys don’t get creative…it’s not really rocket science.
    Is there room for innovation? Sure. But it has to be innovation that you’re pretty sure is going to work. No one wants a tinkering, mad baseball scientist in their dugout, just trying things out to if they’ll work or not. But a creative, outside-the-box kind of guy could work. But the crazy ideas need to work (ie produce wins). This is why LaRussa could bat the pitcher 8th, and Maddon can do a lot of what he does. If that stuff didn’t come along with (and I’m not saying these things necessarily produce) good results, both guys would have been canned long ago…with their quirky, “creative” decisions pointed to as one of the main reasons for their pink slip.

    Comment by KDL — June 20, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

  56. Why not? Guys are pretty regularly pulled with 1-2 runs and less than 4-5 baserunners allowed because they’ve hit the equally arbitrary 100ish pitch count. If 75 were a rounder you wouldn’t have even scoffed at this idea for a second.

    Comment by KDL — June 20, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

  57. Actually Richie, my point is that the amount of rigamaroll is vastly underestimated by Tracy’s system. As Dave stated in the article, it assumes static conditions and I just don’t think that’s realistic. Just because, as some proposals state, you plan to go 5 and 4, doesn’t mean you get that. What happens when the 5er goes 1 1/3? And again, if you have a good starting pitching staff there is no reason to try this. You’re using scrubs who WILL go 1 1/3 on a fairly regular basis. Which means that for it to work you need to play matchups and sleight of hand throughout the entire game. It would take a mad genius with lots of energy like Maddon to pull it off, but I think it would be fascinating to watch, even though games would be about four hours long.

    Comment by Paul — June 20, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

  58. I recently read an article (FanGraphs? JoPo? I can’t remember…) that broke out # of runs scored by inning, and the first inning is apparently the highest-scoring inning. However, this article states that OPS goes up each time through the order. Hard to believe that both of these are true…

    Comment by Ben — June 20, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

  59. The minor league Quad City River Bandits (Single A Midwest League) actually tried this a while back, a “tandem” 4 man rotation of pairs of starters. One of the pair would start and throw about 75 pitches, then the other starter would come in and throw until the later innings (obviously less of a load than the guy who got to start). Granted, they did it to get work in for a glut of SP prospects and the results weren’t as important as getting those pitchers their work, but it seemed to work alright.

    Comment by Steven Gomez — June 20, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  60. Understanding that physics affects baseball at Coors does not require your stupid solutions. It merely requires that the team understand their home park so that they can draft/trade/coach pitchers who fit their home park. Every other team in baseball does this. The Rockies just have to do that same thing differently.

    Comment by jfree — June 20, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

  61. a five man infield could work, but i doubt a 4 man outfield would cut it. it’s much easier to hit a soft ground ball somewhere that an infielder isn’t in a small infield than it is to hit a hard hit ball into the outfield. however, 2 outfielders would leave you susceptible to extra base hits more often, so it would have to be used very situationally

    Comment by Max — June 20, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

  62. I can tell by the sheer volume of posts that many people find the idea interesting, to say the least. Someone mentioned Matt Keough/LaRussa possibly implementing this plan. That is incorrect. It was actually Billy Martin who did the opposite by having his pitching staff throw CG after CG regardless of how many runs they gave up. Martin famously burned his pitchers out. I think this is an interesting idea, however, I believe 3 innings to be the sweet spot – not sure why, no real stats to back it up – just base on watching baseball for many years. Having seen so many pitchers develop and come and go. I’ve noticed many mediocre pitchers that can be somewhat effective for short stretches – I guess that’s why they end up in the bullpen. Think about how Earl Weaver used to develop his young pitchers, with some success, by having them start their careers in the bullpen. I see this as an extension of that. I look forward to seeing the results. Great topic!

    Comment by edhqrv — June 20, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

  63. Let me start by saying that as a Rockies fan I don’t like this little experiment one bit, but I understand the desire to shake things up. You can debate all day long the merits of a 4 or 5 man pitching rotation, but I think it is important to note who constitutes the current four man staff. You have three extremely young kids in Friedrich, White, and Outman and the veteran guile guy in Francis. With the youngsters, Jim Tracy is fed up with watching them nibble to the point of not trusting their stuff enough to throw it over the plate. They’re not throwing strike one early in the at bat often enough. Too often, the starters are getting behind 2-0, and then forcing one in there with the result being whiplash as the ball gets smoked. Rockies starters are not being aggressive enough early in the count, and it is killing us.

    Tracy has stated as such in pregrame shows that the purpose of the 75 pitch limit is it will force them to be more aggressive and try to get outs early in the at bat. This may be the case, but I feel that this artificial limit will be deleterious to the long term development of the young guys. Team management knew going into the season that the starters were young and were going to need to develop at the major league level. How are they going to do that with a 75 pitch limit? Tonight’s game is a perfect example. With two out in the fourth and the Rocks winning 5-4, Alex White reached his limit with two out and a runner on third and Jimmy Rollins coming to bat. Instead of letting White figure out how to get out of the inning (a valuable lesson to have in the future), he got pulled for the left handed Matt Reynolds in order to flip Rollins around to the right side. Rollins promptly dumped one into right, allowing the tying run to score. Why not loosen the leash a little bit and give White one more hitter and potentially a teensy bit more of that all too valuable learning experience that might help him develop into a better pitcher next year and beyond? If he fails, the run scores anyway and then you can pull him.

    I personally see this as a very short term fix. Tyler Chatwood and Drew Pomeranz are apparently not quite ready in AAA but are making progress, and Juan Nicasio should be back from the DL soon. Theoretically, we also should get back Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin sometime this season as well. What is Tracy going to do then? Send Friedrich back to the minors where this system is not in place? Overall, the longer this experiment is in place, I think it will hurt the youngsters. It might benefit Francis, but the kids will suffer. I think once Dan O’Dowd finds a new home for Jeremy Guthrie, they will go back to a traditional 5 man rotation.

    Comment by J.D. — June 20, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

  64. It’s not designed to maximize their use of their good pitchers while minimizing their use of their bad. Rather, in shorter outings their currently bad pitchers will throw harder, thus less bad. Why in the world wouldn’t you try that with a staff that’s currently pitching poorly, rather than mess with one that’s already doing well?

    Comment by Richie — June 20, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

  65. In the first inning you’re facing the other team’s very best hitters. Every time.

    Comment by Richie — June 20, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

  66. It was I who mentioned it (as well as someone else who did in a later post).. But, I was more the 3inning pitcher, followed by a 3inning pitcher, followed by yet another 3inning pitcher to end the game. Matt Keough and Tony LaRussa in Oakland (if memory serves) did that. I was not bringing up CG’s and Billy’s pitcher uses/abuses.

    Comment by Cidron — June 20, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

  67. I tend to agree that it will be shortlived.. Alot of the reasons you stated, (getting back alot of pitchers from DL/rehab) and also to spare the bullpen. The bullpen will be taxed in this experiment alot. All it takes is a handfull (one or two even) of the starter not making it out of the first or second inning for the whole thing to come down. Lets say that does happen, pitcher doesnt make it out. Bullpen is taxed.. Whomever starts the next day is on a 75 pitch limit.. appx 5 innings. Who pitches the last four? The gassed bullpen?

    Comment by Cidron — June 20, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

  68. The Red Sox bullpen have half the ERA of the starters. No one claims they should be starters. Ergo, put all the starters in the pen and you will have 12 good pitchers instead of a potential disaster each start to tax the pen. 54-63 innings a week, 12 pitchers, five innings a week. It’s easy to see some going seven and others a few outs in spots. Not something to do with three or four quality starters, but who is looking at that?
    The personal dynamics have never been worked out, but I believe there would be many unexpectedly positive ones. But as a man said, most people would rather fail conventionally than succeed unconventially.

    Comment by james wilson — June 21, 2012 @ 1:33 am

  69. It’s possible LaRussa did that with some pitchers, but he never managed Matt Keough.

    Comment by edhqrv — June 21, 2012 @ 1:36 am

  70. Good idea or not, Jim Tracy will f**k it up so hard…

    Comment by V — June 21, 2012 @ 5:12 am

  71. Strapless Taffeta Ballgown A-line Taffeta Wedding Dresses (ms0014) [81NEXZXX] – $219.99 :

    Comment by attisoneuge — June 21, 2012 @ 10:24 am

  72. Pretty sure batting the pitcher 8th doesn’t produce any better results than batting him 9th, but it’s not like a change like that is going to take a 95-win team down to 88 wins and out of the playoffs. Subtle changes with almost negligible effects (either positive or negative) are decidely NOT going to get a manager ‘canned’.

    Comment by Jason B — June 21, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  73. “does not require your stupid solutions.”

    Reillo, have you met my friend sarcasm? No, it appears you have not. Reillo, sarcasm. Sarcasm, Reillo. I’ll leave you two to get better acquainted…

    Comment by Jason B — June 21, 2012 @ 11:24 am

  74. This seems like a good idea for any team with a bad rotation and a good bullpen. The Rockies have the bad rotation, but is their bullpen good enough to make this worthwhile?

    Comment by Bip — June 21, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  75. Two additional considerations: Does an extra opportunity to pinch hit for the pitcher have an effect? (maybe a bigger effect including leverage?)
    Does this limit the ability to stack relievers against same-handed hitters (if relievers have to pitch longer per appearance)?

    Comment by benf — June 21, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

  76. 80-110 innings seems like too much coming out of the bullpen

    Comment by Cliff — June 21, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

  77. Also, proofread.
    (I know I’m not the first to say it, but a tiny amount of time spent will go a long way. It’s hard to take someone’s work seriously when it has so many overlooked mistakes.)

    Comment by benf — June 21, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

  78. jfree: correlation does not equal causation.

    Do you have any other evidence than four pitchers who broke down?

    Comment by BlackOps — June 21, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

  79. I can see this working more in the AL with the DH. You don’t really need to pinch hit as often, so you can conceivably carry less bench bats. Maybe 1 ace, then 4 tandems, 3 extra relievers.

    I like the idea. I think the use of pitchers and relievers could be the next “moneyball” or whatever. Watching Freddi Gonzalez on a nightly basis makes me realize just how poorly utilized pens and closers can be.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — June 22, 2012 @ 12:55 am

  80. also makes you wonder how much of a reliever/starters value can be changed by a manager. If you have a starter who is always lights out for 6 innings then gets killed in the 7th, but is consistently left in till the 7th, it’s going to kill his numbers as opposed to if a manager knew when to take him out.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — June 22, 2012 @ 12:57 am

  81. BlackOps:

    Those were simply the only pitchers who pitched 200 innings in more than one year – the “ironmen”. Here’s the entire list of 200 inning pitchers –

    1996 – Kevin Ritz – injured following year (100 IP)
    1998 – Jamey Wright – injured following year (94IP)
    1998 – Darryl Kile – broken following year (WAR from 4.4-2.1) then new team
    2001 – Mike Hampton – the ONE exception – but still only 178 IP the following year and only 69 of them at Coors – he got a fluky 2/3 road schedule that year.
    2004 – Shawn Estes – injured following year (123 IP)
    2004/2006- Jason Jennings – injured in 2005 (122 IP), injured in 2007 (99 IP). Aaron Cook was also injured in between his two 200 IP season and the year after.

    Add to that the anecdotal evidence from every visiting pitcher (esp breaking ball pitchers which is most of them) who has ever pitched at Coors about how tough it is and how sore their arm is afterwards. That’s after one game pitched.

    And the actual laws of physics that support the notion that if a pitcher tries to throw the breaking ball that they are used to throwing, they WILL have to exert 18% more force on their elbow/wrist. That is an absolutely valid CAUSATION for such a correlation to exist.

    That said, I’m pretty sure there is nothing written inside their elbows when injured that says – Coors that did it.

    Comment by jfree — June 22, 2012 @ 2:51 am

  82. You can add the 190+ IP guys to this as well:

    1999 – Brian Bohannon – broken the following year
    2011 – Jhoulys Chacin – injured and broken
    1997 – Roger Bailey – retired following year because of a non-baseball injury (car accident) – so incomplete evidence.

    Comment by jfree — June 22, 2012 @ 3:11 am

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