Friday, February 6, 2009

A Solution to the Starting Pitcher Problem?

In Between Hops has a post up suggesting that the Brewers go with a 4-man rotation (Gallardo, Parra, Bush, Suppan) and designate three middle relievers (Vallanueva, McClung and Riske) to pitch three innings on a 3-day rotation. That leaves you with your closer and a couple other guys for the 9th, mop-up, getting out of jams and LOOGy stuff. I like this kind of idea, but I admittedly don't know enough about how pitcher's arms work to speculate about whether it's possible. What do you guys think?

9 comments:

E.S.K. said...

Off the top of my head, doesn't this really depend on those four starters going deep in every game? A couple bad outing back to back and the whole system is shot.

DannyNoonan said...

I think the opposite. He proposes that all of them go 5 innings and no more. Than the three long relievers going three innings and a closer taking the 9th.

tracker said...

It presumes that if a starter throws roughly 20% fewer pitches, he can recover and again be effective in 20% less time, which would equate to a day, correct? I don't think I buy it. And as a manager, I don't see what this system would gain you, other than having someone hail your LaRussa-like innovative genius till your starters get mad because all the decisions are going to relievers.

Chris said...

It won't happen just because it is different.

I really believe Baseball is the most Reactionary of sports sometimes that is good but other times they would rather rearrange the deck chairs than try and keep the ship from sinking.

E.S.K. said...

ahhh, I totally misread it. I thought they go four and then we use three middle relievers for the fifth.

I'm not sure I really see the benefit of this either.

ahren said...

i think the main problem with a system like that is limiting your best pitchers from throwing high leverage innings after the 5th.

as far as i know, all the studies done have shown that 5 man rotations don't do much (if anything) to limit injuries to starters, nor do they really increase effectiveness. so i'm for reverting to the 4 man rotation generally.

why does suppan get to be in the 4 man rotation? he's the worst pitcher of the 7.

Eric said...

Didn't there use to be only four man rotations back in the day? Seems to me this is more throwback than strategy. The only reason we see this trial balloon is because of a collapse in finding a true fifth starter.

PaulNoonan said...

This is one instance where "the throwback" is superior to the newfangled way (much like the modern closer is less effective than the old-fashioned "fireman").

Ahren is correct that most research has shown that a five man rotation does not prevent wear and tear on your starters. All it does is increase the innings of your worst pitcher capable of starting at the expense of better pitchers.

What kills arms is overuse on a per-game basis, not short rest. I think the plan is half good. Basically, they shouldn't be so mathematical about limiting their starters just because they go with four, except maybe for the younger guys (Parra in particular).

Ahren's also right about the sunk cost that is Jeff Suppan.

DannyNoonan said...

I wouldn't say 4-man is superior to 5-man. I'd say it all depends on your personnel. Both are viable options. You hear these "rules of thumb" with weight lifting, like you shouldn't do chest two days in a row, but it's okay to do sit-ups every day or whatever. It's all BS. It depends on the person. It depends on what they eat and how well they sleep. There are so many factors, I can't imagine that every pitcher in baseball does best with 4 days rest or 3 days rest or anything else.