How has the Rockies' four-man rotation experiment panned out so far?
In June, you'll recall, the Colorado Rockies announced that they would be going to a four-man rotation, with each pitcher limited to 75 pitches. Josh Outman was the first pitcher to start in the new format, and the consequences of the Rockies’ shift were immediate: lots of people became aware that Josh Outman was pitching for the Rockies now. In the Seth Smith trade? You don’t say!
It’s still too soon to say what the four-man rotation—with 75-pitch limits on the starters—has wrought, and will wrou... uhh... whatever the heck the infinitive of wrought is. Work? It seems to be work. Wrought seems to be the past tense of work. Forget it.
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The Rockies have tried to make a four-man rotation work before.
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This season isn't the first time the Rockies have experimented with a four-man rotation: they tried it in 2004, too. It didn't make much sense then, either, as Rany opined in the piece reprinted below, was which was originally published on May 3, 2004
Josh Outman didn't get to finish his fifth inning, despite being up by eight. Will this be the sort of conflict that dooms the Rockies' four-man rotation?
You don't care whether Josh Outman gets credited with a victory, but Josh Outman cares whether he gets credited with a victory. On Saturday, with his pitch count well past the limit his manager has set for his new four-man starting rotation, Outman was pulled from his start. He was leading by eight runs, with two outs in the fifth inning and, therefore, an out short of getting credit for the win. He became the first starter since at least 2000 (as far as I went back) to leave a game with two outs in the fifth inning while leading by at least eight runs.
"I felt we had to do something non-conventional," said Tracy of his beleaguered pitching staff that includes a reliever Josh Roenicke who has thrown more innings than one of the team's starters. "I was given the opportunity to tweak this. We are going to see what transpires as we move forward."
Does a recent rash of experimentation with six-man rotations make sense, and is it likely to be emulated in future seasons?
People love to label phases and eras, so few periods in baseball have gone without names. The 2010 season will be known as the Year of the Pitcher, if last year’s coverage is any indication, just as the Dead-Ball Era lives on nearly a century later. If the first half of the 2011 season comes away with a nickname, history will have to choose between three compelling options: the Year of the Pitcher II, the Summer of Geriatric Managers, and the Invasion of the Six-Man Rotations. Sequels suck and demographics matter, leaving the latter as the most logical choice. The Yankees have thought about going to a six-man rotation, and the Athletics will use one—at least for a week—and when the rich and smart kids are thinking about making a particular move, then it’s time to talk about it.
The most effective means of using starting pitchers has always been a hot topic in the sabermetric community, and it’s inextricably tied to workloads, which in turn inevitably leads back to a discussion of optimal rotation size. In Baseball Between The Numbers, Prospectus alum Keith Woolner wrote about the advantages in going to a four-man rotation—citing, among other reasons, fewer starts going to poor fifth starters and an extra roster spot (Rany Jazayerli hit on similar points during his series in 2002). Another sabermetric publication, The Book (by Tom Tango, Andrew Dolphin, and Mitchel Lichtman), also addressed the topic. Within, the trio suggests that the optimal rest period is five days, while the worst is three days—concluding that four days of rest, the amount currently employed by most teams, is a good compromise.
Lima Time as a standard for evaluation, reinforcing the Red Sox, the Tigers slip by an Inge, and more.
Using a pitcher's rate of SNLVAR, Kazmir's season has been a disaster of massive proportions, one that rates about 4.8 on the Keough scale, something that for the moment suits my purposes for describing starting pitcher inadequacy, using Matt Keough's appalling 1982 season as a baseline for starting pitcher-related terrors visited upon a team's unhappy fans over a full season. This isn't really especially fair of me, in that Keough doesn't hold the single-season low for a starter with 30 starts in a campaign, but 1982 was a horrifying disappointment, and the man was beaten with a regularity that made me think that he was the drum, and the entire American League was Keith Moon.
The Transaction Analysis you have been waiting for. Saunders. Izturis. Guzman. Cormier. Hernandez. Reyes. The names are all here, and only Christina can sort out the right from wrong, and the stupid from the just obtuse.
Jonah Keri takes a closer look at roster construction, in search of a better way. Bobby Cox, Earl Weaver, Casey Stengel and George Stallings lend a hand.
Rarely does a game go by in which I don't see a player thrust into a situation in which he's overwhelmingly likely to fail. We're told that the talent pool is shallower than it used to be, that players don't have the same breadth of skills they used to have. Some say that for every strong major league player, there are three more on the roster who barely belong there, and there's not a thing we can do about it.